Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Things I've learned while trying to make gelatine plates for printmaking

  1. Don't let someone's YouTube video trick you into thinking you can make a gelatine plate with a shallow baking pan.  You want and need a deep pan, if nothing else than to prevent a tidal-wave of gelatine from jumping the pan as you move it from counter to refrigerator, and to get a good solid piece of gelatine (rather than a thin bit that will fall apart as you try to manipulate it).

  2. Buy more than one box of gelatine.  Maybe consider buying 3 or 4 boxes, just in case you spill, or realize you need your gelatine plate to be extra concentrated - watery gelatine makes a fragile plate.

  3.  Did you mess it up?  Have no fear!  Gelatine can be remelted and reformed many many times.  (I'm on time 3, myself.)

  4. To make your gelatine easier to get out of your pan-mold, consider lining it with plastic wrap before pouring your gelatine.  You'll need to trim your edges when you release it from the pan/mold, but you can always melt those bits down and put them in a tiny pan/mold for tiny prints!

  5. If your plastic wrap is not wide enough to line your pan-mold with one piece, go buy wider plastic wrap.  Layering the plastic wrap can create a "continental divide" in your gelatine when the edge of the top layer of plastic wrap floats.  Go ahead and remelt your gelatine and try again.

  6. If you can't find a big/deep enough pan as a mold (because you want something massive, like I do), consider several small blocks of gelatine pieced together in a Tetris fashion to make one huge plate.  The resulting print may be interestingly stone-like.

  7. Gelatine, without all it's pretty colors and added flavors, looks gross and smells bad.

  8. If you have too much water in your gelatine, and you freeze it, some of the water will freeze separately.   Once you move your gelatine to the refrigerator and the water melts, it can be drained off.  Of course, you'll probably need to melt down and re-pour your gelatine.

  9. Plan to start your gelatine plate attempts several days before you'd actually like to start any printmaking.  It can be very disappointing to be remelting and remolding a gelatine plate when you had expected to be making amazing prints.

  10. Be fearless.  This process should probably be easy and quick and idiot-proof.  But, if it's not, that's okay.  Keep going until you get it right - whatever "right" means for you.
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