Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Gelli Arts® Reductive Wiping Technique by Clara Lieu

Hi, Clara Lieu here! I am an Adjunct Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, and a Partner at Art Prof, a free website for learning visual arts. I've worked in printmaking for several decades, but I only recently discovered gel printing plates at a workshop I took at the Massachusetts Art Educators Association conference last fall. Getting access to a professional printmaking press is always a problem for printmakers, so in the past I could only print monotypes on the rare occasion that I had access to a print shop.

When I saw that a gel printing plate could produce visual effects that were really similar to creating a monotype on plexiglass with a press, I was beyond thrilled. Since that discovery, I've been experimenting with Gelli Arts® gel printing plates with my high school students at RISD Project Open Door, and in my own studio practice.

Gel printing plates are capable of an infinite range of visual effects, so when Gelli Arts® provided me with a 16" x 20" plate, I couldn't wait to dig my hands into the surface. I wanted to take advantage of the large scale of this gel printing plate, and I knew I wanted to articulate an object from nature that would appear to be beefy and monumental.

I've always been attracted to root vegetables like daikon radishes, ginseng roots, beets, and more. This time I chose a celery root, which has a quirky, bulbous shape with odd "legs" that look like octopus tentacles. My intent was to make the celery root appear massive and heavy, so I dramatically increased the scale when I created the image.

The technique I used was a reductive wiping technique. You can see me applying this technique in this video tutorial. I applied Akua Intaglio Ink to the gel printing plate with a piece of cardboard, and then used a brayer to roll an even layer of black ink over the entire plate.

From there, I used a cotton rag to wipe away the ink in areas where I wanted highlights in my image. A cotton rag is incredibly versatile as a tool, you can get very crisp edges with it, but you can also dab and lift the ink in so many different ways. I used a bristle brush to touch up a few areas here and there, but the vast majority of the image is created with the cotton rag.

I printed the plate with Rives BFK, a really friendly, all-purpose printmaking paper that I've relied on for many of my projects in the past.

The print came out well; I was pleased with the range of textures and marks in the final piece.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that there were a few areas where I lifted just a little too much ink, and so consequently, the shadow areas weren't quite as dark as I wanted. I went back in with a bristle brush and added a little more darkness to those areas to deepen the shadows.

Making this print was a great experience. I can't wait to see where I will go next with this large-scale gel printing plate!


Gelli Arts® 16”x20” Gel Printing Plate
Bristle Brush
Cotton Rag
Sheet of Plexiglass
Akua Intaglio Printmaking Ink
Small Piece of Cardboard
Rives BFK Paper

© 2018 by Gelli Arts®, LLC
Philadelphia, PA All rights reserved.


  1. That is a really interesting process and use of the Gelli printing plate.

  2. What a great technique. Fantastic results clara.

  3. I love this print , thank you for showing the process. I will definately be having a go in the near future.

  4. So clever! Love the end results...lots of good tips/ideas in this post! Thanks so much for sharing with us!


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