making a gelatine plate for mono printing

There are recipes all over the internet for making your own Gelatine Plate for mono printing; some are made simply with gelatine and water, others include sugar, alcohol, glycerine or vinegar. If you think you may only do a couple of printing sessions and then throw your Gelatine Plate away (in the food waste bin, not down the sink) then replace the glycerine with water and keep your plate in the fridge between sessions. Howver, if you think you’ll do several sessions of printing then I’d use the glycerine as the Gelatine Plate will last for months rather than weeks and won’t have to be kept in the fridge.

The quantities below will make an A5 sized plate, which is perfect for beginners. Double the quantities and use a larger mould for A4 or quadruple for an enormous Gelatine Plate if you want to do some serious large scale printing.

Making a Gelatine Printing Plate

Suitable for A5 sized prints

You will need:

  • A mould, slightly larger than A5 size. Use an acrylic or plastic box, baking tin or small tray with a flat base
  • 72g powdered gelatine (6 x 12g packets)
  • 1 x 200ml bottle of glycerine
  • 265 ml water

Put your empty mould in a cool place, making sure it stands absolutely level, where it can be left undisturbed for a few hours.

Put 100ml of cold water into a bowl with half a bottle of glycerine, stir with a spatula to combine the two and then tip in the powdered gelatine. Stir gently until all the lumps have gone.

Stir in 165ml of boiling water and then the rest of the glycerinel making sure that everything is well mixed and there are no lumps. Don’t whisk as you need to create as few bubbles as possible.

Pour your runny gelatine mixture into the mould and use strips of newspaper to skim off any bubbles that may be lurking on the surface. Don’t move the mould while the gelatine is still liquid, but leave for a few hours until the gelatine is well set. If you live somewhere particularly hot, you might need to pop it into the fridge to fully set.

You should end up with a very firm set jelly (not at all the voluptuous wobbly sort you’d make for dessert).

Printing with your Gelatine Plate

Now your Gelatine Plate is made, you’re ready to print. If your plate has been in the fridge, take it out an hour or so before you want to print (otherwise the plate will become damp and your prints will be watery).

If you’re making a series of prints with similar colours, the plate won’t need cleaning between colours. However, after using very dark colours you might want to clean the plate by simply spraying with water and wiping off the ink with damp kitchen paper before you ink up with a lighter colour.

Read this if you’d like to make simple Jelly Prints using plants and feathers.

Using your Gelatine Plate again

At the end of your printing session, clean your Gelatine Plate by spraying with water and wiping with kitchen paper and then wrap the Gelatine Plate in cling film and keep somewhere cool.

After a few weeks you may find your Gelatine Plate develops small holes or cracks in the surface and starts to dry out. Don’t worry. Chop the plate into pieces, put them in a bowl with ¼ cup of water and gently melt in the microwave oven or on the back of a warm stove. Don’t boil the mixture. Once it’s melted and liquid, pour it through a fine mesh sieve back into your mould and leave to set.