Monoprinting is an artistic technique used to produce unique prints. The word ‘mono’ meaning ‘one’ refers to each impression being unique; even if using the same printing media many times each impression will be different. Monoprinting plates can be made from many different materials including wood, leather, stone and plastic.
Making the Plate
Here is the link to the YouTube video sharing the recipe. All the supplies for making the gelatine plate are available at any large supermarket or chemist. Gelatine, rubbing alcohol (Isocol is the most common brand in Australia) and glycerine are all available from the supermarket. The alcohol and glycerine can also be found at chemists. When choosing gelatine, you may have the choice between a box of individual 7g sachets or a tin. Buy the tin. This is about half a tablespoon more than the original recipe called for, but as the point is to make a very stiff gel, I figured that wouldn’t hurt.
Open a window, this gets a bit smelly. Have everything opened, measured and ready to go:
- 100g tin of gelatine
- 1 cup rubbing alcohol
- ½ cup Glycerine
- 1 ½ cups hot water
Dissolve the gelatine in the hot water then add the alcohol and glycerine. Use a whisk and keep stirring until everything is dissolved. Pour into a shallow tray on a level surface and leave to set (a few hours is all it takes).
Choose a container with a perfectly flat bottom such as a ceramic baking dish. The top of the gelatine plate will have a rougher texture than the bottom and you can choose which side to use when making your prints, depending on the effect you would like.
Originally I used a plastic container with ridges on the bottom. This created stress points in the plate where it tore when I washed it. I tore it up into small pieces; put it into a pyrex jug and microwaved it for about 1 minute 20 seconds on high (stirred it after 1 minute) and repoured it into the baking dish. This second time around the dish was smaller so the plate ended up thicker as well, which I am guessing will also help it last longer. I am using the plastic container to store the plate in, with a transparency on the bottom to protect the plate from the ridges.
Storage (added after original post was written)
KEEP YOUR GELATINE PLATE IN THE FRIDGE!
I had read that this method of creating a gelatine plate did not require refrigeration; something to do with a chemical reaction that turned the gelatine into a plastic; so I was storing mine in a plastic tupperware-type box on a shelf in my studio. I got my plate out yesterday to use it and found a box full of black mould. Nasty. The whole lot went straight into the bin.
The silver lining is that when I make another one, I will take photos to add to this post!
- Lay the plate on a flat, non-porous surface.
- Using a brayer spread a small amount of acrylic paint over the surface of the plate.
- Place flat media onto the plate and/or making marks in the paint with different tools (nothing sharp or pointed)
- Lay a piece of paper over the top and rub over gently with your hands.
- Lift the paper to reveal your first mono-print.
- Remove the media and take another impression on a new piece of paper.
- Clean the plate by spraying with water and wiping clean with a soft cloth.
Media ideas: stencils and masks, leaves, string, ribbon, punched shapes and die cuts, hand-cut shapes.
Tool ideas: round end of a paintbrush, your finger, a comb, craft foam cut with decorative edge scissors, foam stamps.
Once your print is dry, you can print onto it again (with a different colour) to increase the visual depth of the artwork. This YouTube video demonstrates several different layered printing ideas.