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How to Make Gelli Prints with Kids

Making Gelli prints is easy and fun for all ages! Here are some beginner gelli print techniques you can use to make gelli prints with kids.

Gelli Print Ideas for Kids

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What Is a Gelli Print?

Gelli prints are made using Gelli plates, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The plates are soft but strong, and can be used over and over when they are well looked after. Gelli plates can be used to print on paper, fabric, and even wood! You can also use Gel Press plates, which are similar but from another brand; we used Gelli Arts brand so that’s what I reference in this post. It’s not a sponsorship; just what we bought.

With Gelli plates, your only real limit is your imagination!

Gelli Print Card

The above print was made by my daughter using a feathery length of yarn pressed into red and yellow acrylic paint that she rolled across the Gelli plate.

How to Make Gelli Prints with Kids

Gelli printing works really well even with kids who don’t consider themselves “good” at art, because it’s all about process and exploration!

Making Gelli Prints with Kids

All you really need is a Gel plate and some paint – watercolor, alcohol inks, and acrylic all work. Acrylic paints are recommended.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, starting with a kit can help! We made all of the prints in this post using this Gelli Arts feather painting kit. It included a brayer, paint, and some fun printing accessories.

Gelli Printing Instructions for Kids

Gelli printing with kids is easy! These guidelines will get you started:

  • Set up your work space. We printed on our glass topped dining room table, which wipes clean beautifully, but you may want to lay out newspaper or use trays if you have a less washable workspace.
  • Squeeze a couple of paint colors onto the plate and roll them out with your brayer. If you use too many colors it will just look messy
  • Now add your textures. Gelli Arts sells printing tools, but you can also just use things you already have lying around the house. Feathers, yarn, mesh, even LEGO bricks work to create texture! Just remember, you need to work pretty quickly. You don’t want your paint drying!
  • Lay your paper down on the gel plate and press evenly. Lift, and place to dry.
  • Experiment with painting some of your texture items (like feathers) in addition to using them to create shapes.
  • Try printing several papers with the same painted and patterned gel plate. You may prefer a later, fainter print more than the early vibrant ones.
  • Clean your Gelli plate with a baby wipe, or a spray of water and a paper towel. Hand sanitizer can also be used.
how to make Gelli Prints with kids

Gelli Print Techniques

Making Gelli Prints with Kids

Creativity is really the rule when making Gelli prints! The prints you see above were all made by children using feathers, yarn, printing tools, and a mesh sheet. Look at the green print on teh bottom row – do you see how this child first printed the feather facing down on the gel press, and then re-pressed with the feather facing up? You can also see some of the gel plate painted feathers.

Gelli Print Ideas

Here are some of our favorite gel printing ideas.

Gelli Print ideas
  • Feathery yarn. This made consistently beautiful prints without needing anything else.
Making textured Gelli Prints
  • Feathers. These work best when placed gently and not moved around.
  • Mesh. The honeycomb pattern that came with the kit we bought worked really well. If you are buying mesh, we recommend finding something that is pretty thin.
  • Gelli Arts printing tools. especially when used to create a wavy pattern.

Things we want to try:

  • Stencils. I’m curious to see how well these would work. It seems like they should?
  • Lifting print off paper. I know you can do this, but we haven’t tried it yet.
  • Plastic play dough tools or clay molding tools – using these to create patterns.

What else should we try?

What Can You Do With Gelli Prints?

Now that you have your prints, what do you do with them? We think they’re fun just as a process art idea, but you here are few fun ideas:

  • Turn them into cards
  • Use fabric paint and print t-shirts or bags (this is on our to-try list)
  • Turn printed fabric or paper into bunting
  • Stitch printed squares of fabric together to make a wall-hung quilt

What else would you make with gel press painted art?

Do you make Gelli prints – on your own or with kids? How did it go? Do you have more ideas that we should try?

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

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