The Blooms of Friendship Fabric Printing with Karla Leopold - Gel Press

The Blooms of Friendship Fabric Printing with Karla Leopold

Monoprinting Fabric with Gel Press by Karla Leopold

This exciting art adventure will take you on an exploration using a 6×6 Gel Press plate with Pebeo Setacolor fabric paint and Setascrib marking pens. Be prepared to leave your critic outside the door. You will play with colors, glitter paint, a substance that feels like a jelly fish and create. There are no mistakes. One can paint over anything you don’t like and often the piece you view as a screw up turns out to be your favorite. There is no right or wrong as this is your adventure. Breath, turn up the music. Let’s go on this exciting art journey together and create art!

Setting up your work space in a way that works for you is important. Make sure that all you need is close.

Supply List

  • 6×6 Gel Press plate
  • Brayer
  • 3-4 light colored fabrics that are at least 50% cotton – I chose a white and green linen
  • Dot stencil
  • Pebeo SetaColor fabric paint
  • Glitter: 206 Turquoise, 207 Tourmaune, 208 Gold
  • Light Fabric: 33 Fluorescent Pink,
  • Pearl Opaque: 97 Pearl Gold
  • SetAScrib+ fabric markers Gray, Pink and Blue
  • Marking tools, pop cycle sticks, paint brush, fingers, paper plate for palette, scissors, paper towels, water container, wax paper to cover the working surface
  • Heat Gun or Iron to heat set the fabric paint. After heat setting the fabric paint, the item can be washed.
  • Phone camera: I take pictures of my work along the way and especially towards the end. I can see from a different perspective if I am finished or need more work.

Fabric Swatches

Begin with getting your fabric ready. Create four to six, 7″ x 7″ squares of fabric that are at least 50% cotton. I tear the fabric as opposed to cutting as I like the ragged edges. I have them ready near my plate for easy access.

Supplies for Gel Press monoprinting on fabric

We are using the 6×6 Gel Press. Have your brayer and marking tools ready.

Pebeo Setacolor fabric paints Setascrib marking pens come in a large assortment of colors and purposes. There are paints and pens for light or heavy fabrics.  The variety; glitter, shimmer, pearl, opaque, and brilliance of these fabric paints make them fun to use. We will only be using only five of my favorite paints. After the paints are heat set with heat gun or iron, they can be washed without losing color or brilliancy.

With so many choices of fabrics, paint and sizes of Gel Press plates,  it is hard to limited items for our work today but important that we do. I usually limit my color palette at the beginning and only add more colors towards the end, if needed. I advise my students to pick only three or four colors to work with. You do avoid making mud by limiting colors.

Using Pebeo Setacolors on the Gel Press plate

Glitter Turquoise, Taurmaine, Pearl Gold and Glitter Gold are poured on to the Gel Press. I like to think about pouring three different portions of each color.  I tell my students there’s a daddy bear, a mommy bear, and baby bear in three different places.

Using Pebeo Setacolors on the Gel Press plate

I lightly used the brayer and pretty much dab of the colors around other times I’ll brayer it on but this time I want the colors to be a little bit separated.

I went back and added a dab a blue gold on top of the other colors as they had got lost in the lovely combination. I took a brush and played around and made some the other colors show up. Remember we are playing!

Put the lid back on the paints as I have spilled a whole bottle of paint in the past. I’d rather not spend my time in the studio cleaning up. I always put the lids back and clean the lid rim when I am done.

I also have another piece of 7″ x 7″ fabric sitting ready for the ghost print after I do my first print. With this plate I was able to get 3 pulls.

When placing the fabric on the painted Gel Press, I don’t worry about the results. It is always a wonderful surprise every time. The paint, Gel Press and fabric will be what they want to be not what we think they should be. Remember you can always add on another layer.

I gently give the back side of the fabric a little love rub until I see the paint coming through to the back side. I often use a paper towel over the fabric to rub on top of if the fabric is thin like the muslin.

rubbing fabric

After pulling up the fabric, I notice I want to have more paint that goes to the edges. I just put only the area that needs paint back on the Gel Press.

adding more paint

I don’t let any paint go to waste. I have the second and third square ready to go.

Using Pebeo Setacolors gold on the Gel Press plate

I use the heat gun at this point to set the paint on the squares so when I add more layers the colors won’t mush together.

heat gun

Looking at the first pull I decided to add some polka dots in Fluorescent Pink for a real pop! I add the pink paint right on the plate.

adding polka dots

Layering the stencil directly on top of the paint, I lay the fabric on top and gently rub, remembering the 3 rule, I use the dots in 3 random places in 3 different sizes: small, medium and large.

I do a second and third pull using left over paint from the plate, brayer and paint dripped on the wax paper.

pulls with paint

I also use the back side of the stencil as it has pink paint from the plate. No paint gets unused!

While I am creating these beautiful pieces, I am thinking about what is happening, how it feels and what comes to mind when I look at each piece. The word “Friendship” resonates and feels like it fits. My art becomes more personal when I begin to understand at an emotional level what I am creating.  I start thinking about the important ingredients of a friendship and how it relates to flowers blooming. I now know where I will take these prints.

Turning the squares around, I start to look for flower arrangements. I start to use my phone and take photos of the work. I study the photos to see if I can find usable images.


Using the gray Setascrib marker I start to draw around shapes, vases, flowers and anything else I might see.

Negative painting and simplifying shapes becomes the next task with the gold and pearl paint.

I will use my fingers to make petals, smug lines and scrape lines. For accents and defining flowers I used the gray, pink and blue Setascrib markers.

gold paint

Stopping just before you think you are finished is important! You can always add more but taking out things, proves more difficult.

nearly finished project

At this point I take a break, breath and take photos. Returning I add a few more defining lines and say FINISH! That is to remind me not to go back and do more.

Finished project

As I iron the squares on the back side and look at the work, I think of the name of the series Blooms of Friendship. The Joy, Trust and Love are the titles of these 3 pieces. The process of creating this art is a mixing, evaluating, appreciating and finding the beauty of the process and hopefully the results. Not much different than friendships. I am blessed to have wonderful and beautiful friendships in my life and I think these pieces reflect it.

Karla Leopold

Karla Leopold - Working Artist for Gel Press