Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mini Gelli® Plate Stamping with Ink Pads!

The NEW Mini Gelli® Printing Plates are perfect for stamping—and so much fun to print with! Simply remove the mylar cover sheets and press a Mini plate onto an acrylic block or smooth plastic sheet—and you're ready for stamping!

Because the Mini plates are small and stamp-like, you may be wondering…what about using them with rubber stamp inks? 

To date, Gelli Arts® has taken a cautionary standpoint—advising (in our FAQ) that some stamp inks may stain the plate. But we also point out that a stained plate doesn't have any impact on future prints or the performance of the plate.

Along the way, we've learned that lots of you have been using stamp pad ink on your Gelli® plates—with wonderful results! And we now know that stamp pad inks do not appear to permanently stain the gel plate.

So it's time to take a more in-depth look at Gelli Arts® printing with a variety of stamp pad inks. I'm experimenting with some popular stamping inks—and we'll see the results.

A good place to start is by describing the basic differences between dye and pigment ink pads, for those of you who may not be familiar with them.

Dye ink pads have thinner, translucent ink that typically dries fast on porous substrates. You can easily identify dye ink pads—they have felt pads. 

Examples of dye ink pads:  Ranger Distress Ink and Archival Ink.
Tsukineko StazOn and Memento Dye Ink. Hero Arts Shadow Ink and Neon.
Pigment inks are thicker, opaque and slower drying. These are also easy to identify—they have foam pads.

Examples of pigment ink pads:  Tsukineko Brilliance, Versa Magic, and VersaColor.
Clearsnap Colorbox Classic and Colorbox Fluid Chalk 
There are inks that are ideal for stamping on fabric, as well as a variety of substrates, including wood, leather, plastic, etc. They may require heat-setting for permanence on porous materials—per the manufacturer's instructions—so you'll want to read the labels.

Examples of mixed media and multipurpose pigment inks:
Tsukineko MementoLUXE and VersaCraft
Having worked with both dye and pigment stamp inks on the Gelli® plate, I'm excited to share the good news:  Most did not stain the plate!  And when they did tint the gel plate, I was able to remove the stain by following these easy steps:
      1. Apply baby oil to the gel plate and wipe with a paper towel until the plate is clean.
      2. Wash the plate with a dish soap (such as Dawn) to remove the oily residue.
      3. Rinse the plate with water and pat dry with a paper towel.
TIP:  This cleaning process is the recommended method for removing any stains from the Gelli plate—such as graphite (pencil marks) and newsprint ink. This is also how to clean the gel plate after using oil-based paints or inks. 

For my experiments, I applied the ink pads directly to the Gelli® plate by tapping the ink onto the gel surface. Some inks provide excellent coverage, while 'wetter' inks tend to bead up a bit. For ink that beads up, rolling with a brayer helps smooth it out.

Or, you can roll your brayer directly onto the ink pad to load it with ink—then roll your inked brayer onto the Gelli® Mini printing plate.

The 'juiciness' of the ink pad makes a difference in whether or not the ink goes on smoothly—or if it beads up.

For example, Ranger's Distress Ink is a relatively wet ink, which can bead up. Rolling out Distress Ink can make a difference in how it prints. However, I found no need to brayer the ink from my older, drier Distress pads. So it's not always simply a matter of brand and ink type. Be ready to experiment! 

Ink that is beaded up on the plate creates a print with a speckled or mottled appearance—which you may find interesting. Inks that are not rolled out also print slightly darker.

After the stamp ink is applied to the gel plate (and rolled out if desired)— you can press stencils, stamps, and found textures onto the plate to create designs in the ink. Then stamp your Mini plate to create your print! And you can often get a beautiful ghost print or two, so have paper ready to stamp again and again!

NOTE:  Dye inks tend to soak into the paper—and the ink can bleed through to the back. I printed all of these images on Staples Card Stock 110 lb.—and some inks bled through. Printing with stamp pad ink is quite different in that respect from printing with acrylic paint.

Layering stamped prints with Mini plates is easy since you can see exactly where you're placing the next imprint. Different stamp inks—with their unique translucent or opaque qualities—are great for creative layering. 

TIP:  After using stamping inks with stencils and other tools, it's a good idea to clean them off with a baby wipe or paper towel. Some inks can stay wet for some time on non-porous materials and smear or rub off where you don't want it to.

Ink formulations vary by brand, so it's important to read the instructions on the back of the ink pad. Some stamp inks are permanent and waterproof and can be used in layered prints without having an impact on other layers. Some inks require heat-setting to be permanent and waterproof. And there are water-based inks that react with water and other stamped layers. So it's good to know what to expect from the ink you're using.

With so many manufacturers producing such a wide variety of different ink pads, it wasn't possible to try them all! But I feel that I'm able to provide an overview of the results you might expect using dye and pigment ink pads on your Gelli® plates. Individual results can vary. 

If you've been itching to try stamping or printing with your Mini plates—or any other size Gelli® plate—with stamp pad inks...we can now say "Go for it!!"

Stamping with Mini Gelli® plates using stamp pads is so much fun!! Give it a try!! 

There are so many ways to use your colorful stamped papers! I cut the paper in half before printing (5.5"x8.5")—then punched each page with my ARC punch. Now the prints are ready to pop into my disk-bound planner/journal to be worked on further.

PLEASE — share your prints with us on our Facebook page, or on Instagram using the hashtag #gelliarts and/or #gelliprint. Tag us with @gelliarts on Instagram and Twitter too! 
We love to see what you are creating!!

And remember, we now have Gelli® partners all over the world, so it's easier than ever to find a Gelli Arts® retailer near you!

Have Fun and Happy 'Mini' Printing! 


  1. I love that idea, I think I need some mini Gelli plates!

  2. AWESOMENESS!! I cannot wait to give this a try!!! Thanks for the wonderful knowledge!!

  3. Just got my mini plates in the mail today...can't wait for the weekend so I can play!!! Thanks so much for the stamping ink info.

  4. Thanks for the useful information wonderful.

  5. Wow this had to go on my Christmas wish list. ..would love to have a play

  6. Just found your great blog via FB and I'm delighted to have become your newest follower....lots of inspiration here x

  7. OMG how could I own 8gazillion stamp pads and never know the whole felt pad vs foam pad identification method!!!!
    Okay, now I'll go read the rest of the post 😊


  9. It would be pretty neat if you made gelli plates in tangram kits! fit together composites...

  10. So inspirational and amazing artwork! Thanks so much for sharing.
    Fliss xx

    modern art canvas prints

  12. these are super cute! how big are they? I don't have any acrylic blocks and will need to order but I need to know approx. size of the mini gellis!

    1. Hi Mandi - thanks for your question! Our Mini's are all approximately 3" in size (not bigger than 3" in any dimension). Hope that helps!

  13. Great tutorial. Easy instructions for adding this new way to make Gelli prints. Love the foam vs. felt pad tip to remember ink differences. Thanks for inspiration using our plates!

  14. I follow you on Instagram, but glad I finally followed the link to your blog. Great stuff!

  15. I'd like to know how everything is going with this.
    Art Expo Malaysia

  16. You have got some great posts in your blog. Keep up with the good work.
    pop art canvas

  17. Nice blog. Thanks for sharing useful infomation.
    Mini round coaster

  18. Nice blog. Thanks for sharing useful infomation.
    mini round coaster


Thanks so much for taking the time to comment on our blog! We hope you find it fun and helpful in your artistic endeavors!

We will try our best to answer your questions and provide good, helpful information in a timely manner.

We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for stopping by!

Happy Printing!
Gelli Arts®

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