Making Gelli Prints With Emily In My Studio

Emily in my studio today making Gelli prints.

I moved my work table into the middle of my studio and covered it with a dropcloth.  I’d never done a Gelli print before, but by the way Emily described it,  it sounded like something I wanted to try.

When Emily saw that last week was a rough one for me she invited herself over to do something creative together.  “We never worked together,” she said to me as if it was a given that we should.

I’ve been working alone for so long, it never even entered my mind.

Emily suggested we do something that we couldn’t sell, to take the pressure off and allow our intuition to run free.

The last time I did printmaking I was in my mid-twenties in art school. I was never very good at it.  The reverse thing always threw me. When you pull a print it’s always backward from what you’ve drawn.  I never got used to that.

But with the kind of prints we were making today, it wasn’t about having an idea of what the print would look like when it was done. It was more about not knowing and trusting.

Gelli prints are made by rolling paint with a brayer onto a thick soft surface then pressing paper (or fabric) over it.  It’s a monoprint.  Which means each print will be different and can’t be repeated like in many printmaking processes.

When I first began, everything I made looked to me like something Emily would have made.  The colors and shapes reminded me of the ones I’d see in her work.  But by the end of the day, I was beginning to get a feel for it.

We worked from about ten to one o’clock, then Jon made us lunch, fresh corn on the cob, and a cauliflower pizza.  After that we looked at the pieces we had made.  So many of them looked better to me than when I first printed them.

Emily and I both did prints on paper and fabric.  When we were done, we put them on my studio floor to dry.  We didn’t pay much attention to who made what and once they were dry we printed over many of them adding colors and textures to finish them off.

Emily took all the prints on paper to use for her collages and I kept the prints on fabric including a large piece that Emily made.

I’ll let my prints dry for 24 hours then put them in the dryer for an hour to set.  In a week I’ll wash them.  Then I can use them the way I would any piece of fabric.

After Emily left I got a phone call about a doctor’s bill that I’ve been disputing for over a year and brought me so low I forgot what a good day we had. I was trying to remember how I felt about it and couldn’t.  That’s when Jon told me to look at the video he took of us working together.

When I did, I could see just how happy I was. How easy Emily and I worked together and how intriguing the work we did was to me.

I’m used to working alone, but it was a joy to have Emily in my studio and to work together.

(You can see the video of me and Emily making prints here). And you can see more of Emily’s work on her blog papercakescissors.  Just click here. 

Some of the prints Emily and I made today. She also did some printmaking in her sketchbook.

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