Gelatin Printing

We've been experimenting with the fascinating process of gelatin printing. Why was it so fascinating?
There are several reasons.

Gelatin Printing

Firstly, the gelatin was a captivating sensory experience. If the gelatin could have talked, it would have cried out "touch me!" as it was sort of soft and bouncing but yet firm at the same time. It was irresistible - something that you just absolutely, definitely had to touch!

Secondly,
we were able to make negative and positive prints. I found it amazing that two different prints could be made using the same gelatin pad without adding extra paint.

Thirdly, we created the gelatin pad ourselves which made the process so much more interesting.

Okay, enough rambling ... this is how we did it.

Making the Gelatin Printing Pad

Make the gelatin printing pad

To make the gelatin printing pad, use edible gelatin powder which can be found in the supermarket. Follow the mixing instructions that come with the gelatin powder. However, make one IMPORTANT adjustment to the recipe: double the amount of power..

We used 2 tablespoons of gelatine to set 400ml of water.

Pour the gelatin mixture into a shallow container. We recycled some shallow plastic containers from our "useful box" (otherwise known as the "junk box").

Leave the gelatin to set in the refrigerator until the next day. When taken out of the refrigerator, the gelatin printing pad will gather condensation which can be easily and carefully absorbed with a paper towel. Then you're ready to print.

Printing with Gelatin

Step One: Smear a light coat of acrylic paint onto the gelatin printing pad.
Smear paint on the gelatin printing pad
At first, we painted a thick layer of paint onto the gelatin but found that it didn't really produce prints but gluggy paint impressions. The key is to lightly coat the surface of the gelatin printing pad with paint: it doesn't need much paint!

As we didn't have a paint roller, we used a paint brush but were very happy with the added texture that it gave our prints.

Step Two: Add leaves or stencils

Place leaves or stencil on top of the paint smeared gelatin
Place the items carefully onto the gelatin printing pad so as not to smear the paint around.

Step Three: Lay paper onto the gelatin printing pad
Place paper on the gelatin printing pad
Carefully place a piece of paper on top of the gelatin printing pad and leaves/stencil.

Step Four: Rub paper
Gently rub the paper
Lightly rub the surface of the paper to make the print.

Step Five: Remove paper
Remove the paper
Peel the paper off the gelatin paper and you'll be left with a negative print.

Step Six: Make positive print
Create a positive print
Carefully remove the leaves or stencil, trying not to move the object across the gelatin. The items need to be lifted up and away from the gelatin printing pad.

Lay a new piece of paper on top of the gelatin printing pad and rub it gently. Peel the paper off and you'll be left with a positive print.

Create a positive print
I'm sure there are a million ways to extend this simple printing process such as:

  • printing negative and positive prints on the same piece of paper

  • drawing on the prints

  • drawing on the paper before printing

  • using different objects in the printing process (e.g., leaves, flowers, stencils)

  • using different implements to put the paint onto the gelatin printing pad.

As gelating printing is a new experience for us, I'm sure we'll learn more as we experiment. However, I love the results we've achieved so far.

Negative and Positive Prints

This is definitely a great art project in which both the process and the end product are enjoyable.

It's certainly an art activity we're keen to explore further.

Have you and your children experimented with gelatin printing? I'd love to hear about your adventures. Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or on our facebook page.

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Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.

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