Mediums Surfaces Application Cleaning Storage
A: Acrylic paints are a favorite media for monoprinting on the Gel Press® plate. More expensive paints are highly pigmented. The less ‘filler’ in the paint allows the paint to also have a longer working time. While inexpensive paints are an option, you have to work pretty fast in order to get a print. You can slow the drying time by adding a retarder, acrylic glaze medium or Golden Open Medium to any acrylic paint in order to get longer working time.
Q: Can I use printmaking inks on my Gel Press® plate?
A: Yes. We recommend block printing and water-soluble inks.
Q: Can I use oil-based inks and paints?
A: As long as the materials you are using can be cleaned off with gel hand sanitizer, baby oil, wipes or soap and water, they can be used on the plate. Oil-based paints typically require solvent-based chemicals for cleanup and should be avoided on the plate. Water miscible oil paints have come on the market with similar properties to oil paints as long as used with other miscible products. In any case it is best if they don’t sit on the plate for long. The Gel Press® plate is made with a non-toxic mineral oil, and the oils in paint or ink can soften the plate if left there too long.
Q: Can I use dyes and rubber stamp inks?
A: Dyes and stamp inks may stain the Gel Press® plate, but that will not affect the performance of your Gel Press® plate. The same is true of ink refills. Inks are very fun to apply direct-to-plate and give incredibly detailed prints!
Q: Can I use fabric paints?
A: Yes. You can also add Golden’s GAC 900 Medium to any acrylic paint to make it a heat-set fabric paint. Some silk paints have a very watery viscosity and will bead up on the plate.
Q: Can I use watercolors?
A: Watercolor paints are not ideal for monoprinting, as their thin viscosity will bead up on the Gel Press® plate. However, we have seen Gel Press® prints done with watercolor with beautiful results. Gouache may be easier to work with. We suggest experimenting if you wish to use watercolors.
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A: There are so many papers that are great for Gel Press® printing! Anything from computer paper to card stock to printmaking paper. We recommend starting out with regular computer paper, as you get used to Gel Press® printing. You’ll use a lot of paper! We love Hammermill Color Copy Digital for printing on thinner paper, especially for use in art journals or to adhere to another substrate. Staples #110 Cardstock is also an economical heavy paper. Bristol is another great choice. Rives BFK or Rising Stonehenge are excellent printmaking papers for fine prints. For collage, we love using deli paper (dry waxed paper) for its thin, translucent properties. Paper is such an individual preference, and your end purpose will be a factor in your paper choice. Choose a paper that suits the mixed-media you may apply to your initial print. A smooth-surfaced paper gives a more detailed print.
Q: Do I need to mist or soak my printing papers?
A: No. When monoprinting on a Gel Press® plate is best using dry paper.
Q: Are there any papers that should NOT be used?
A: Yes, glossy coated photo paper stock is not compatible with the Gel Press® plate. It can immediately stick to the plate and not come off without damaging the plate’s surface. The only exception to this rule is Ranger’s Glossy paper when used in conjunction with open media, such as Golden’s Open Acrylics, or paint that has been extended with an open or glazing medium and therefore isn’t tacky.
Q: Can I monoprint on fabric?
A: Yes. Gel Press® printing is perfect for monoprinting on fabric. Tight-weave fabrics, such as USArtQuest Studio Cloth, RTD cotton and muslin give great results.
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A: There can be a slight learning curve to find what paints work best and how much to use. If your paints are drying too fast, you can try using a slightly heavier paint application. Another good option is to add some retarder or acrylic glaze medium to your paint to slow down the drying time. Spraying the plate with water does not usually help. Dried paint on the surface can create the most amazing pickup prints though – so experiment with putting another layer of contrasting color, such as white or buff thinly over the top and then pulling a print.
Q: My paint is beading up and repelling on my plate. What should I do?
A: The gel plate is made with a non-toxic mineral oil. At times, the plate may have a thin film of oil that slightly repels water-based paints. Washing the plate with a dish soap, such as Dawn, will help alleviate this situation. As the plate gets used, the paint should roll out smoothly. Another situation that can cause paint to bead up is when the paint is too watery or has a lot of glycerin or glaze in it. Working quickly can alleviate some of the issues.
A: Usually, when prints are sticking to the plate, there’s too little paint coating the plate. You may also experience this if the paint is drying on the plate. Using a bit more paint may help. If the surface of the plate feels tacky, it’s best to wash it with a dish detergent, such as Dawn, and pat dry — then continue printing. If the plate is extremely tacky, apply a few drops of baby oil to the plate and work across the surface.
Q: Do I need to wipe or wash my plate between prints?
A: No. In fact, some of the happiest surprises occur when paint from previous prints show up on subsequent prints. However, if you want to start a fresh print with a clean plate, simply spritz with water and wipe with a paper towel. Baby wipes work well, and gel hand sanitizer also cleans the plate easily.
Q: Can I place a reference picture under the Gel Press® plate while printing?
A: It is important to create a barrier between your reference picture and the Gel Press® plate. Place your Gel Press® plate on a piece of Mylar, acetate, acrylic, Plexiglas, or glass first. Then place that over your picture. Do not place your Gel Press® plate directly onto a photograph.
Q: Is Gel Press® monoprinting a good activity for small children?
A: Gel Press® printing is great fun for all ages! Children should be supervised — monoprinting can be a messy process. Tempera paint can be used with great results for young artists.
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Q: Will my Gel Press® plate break down over time? How long will it last?
A: With proper care, Gel Press® plates are extremely durable and long-lasting. We’ve been using our plates for several years and they are all in excellent condition.
Q: My Gel Press® plate surface has become matte and cloudy. Is this normal?
A: Yes. As your plate is used, it will lose its glass finish and become matte and cloudy. This is perfectly normal and does not affect its performance at all.
Q: I noticed there are bubbles under the plastic sheets that cover the Gel Press® plate. Is that a problem?
A: It is possible for air bubbles to form between the Mylar and the gel plate surface leaving a small bubble mark. These are insignificant and do not usually present any problem in printing. If bubble marks do show up on your prints – try the following: Place your plate bubble mark side down on a hard, flat surface (the gel printing plate contains mineral oil, so do not place the plate on a surface that may absorb mineral oil) and let it sit overnight. The gel material conforms to the surface it is laying upon – so in the morning the bubble marks should be gone. If you have not gotten the results you were hoping for, place a piece of copy paper smoothly against the gel plate, being careful to smooth out the paper with your hands to ensure there are no air bubbles in between the paper and the plate, and repeat the process. Only allow the copy paper to remain in contact with the plate overnight, as it will continue to absorb the oil from the plate.
We do not recommend storing the plates with the Mylar sheets. These are simply part of post-manufacturing process and can be discarded. Remove the product insert, and store your Gel Press plate in the clamshell packaging.
Storing your plate upright, like a book, will lead to less weight on the surface and therefore less chance of having a trapped air bubble create a noticeable indentation.
Q: Can I cut my Gel Press® plate into smaller pieces?
A: Yes, but the pricing of the plates makes this unnecessary. Two 8×10 plates are similar in cost to a 12×14 plate. So there is no price savings to be achieved by cutting the plates down in size. The Gel Press® plate can be cut with scissors. Do not try to cut it with a craft knife. The flexible, stretchy nature of the plate makes it very difficult to cut with a knife and almost impossible to achieve a straight edge.
Q: Is it okay if paint dries on the Gel Press® plate?
A: Yes. Printing with fresh paint directly over dry paint may pull the dried paint off the plate, creating interesting, unpredictable prints. However, when you’re finished with your printing session, we recommend cleaning your plate. Always clean the surfaces before replacing your Gel Press® plate in its clamshell package.
Q: How do I clean my Gel Press® plate after using acrylic paints?
A: The plate is very easy to clean. You can spritz it with water and wipe with a paper towel or lint free cloth, then pat dry. Baby wipes and gel hand sanitizer are also useful for wiping the plate clean. You can also take the plate to the sink and wash with mild soap and water.
Q: How do I clean my Gel Press® plate after using oil-based paints?
A: Wipe the plate clean with baby oil (mineral oil), then wash with a dish soap, such as Dawn, to remove the oily residue. Vegetable oil will repel future paint applications and therefore is not recommended.
Q: My plate has become stained from pigments. How can I remove the stains?
A: Wiping your plate with baby oil should remove most pigment stains. After you’ve cleaned the plate, you should wash it with a dish soap, such as Dawn, to remove the oily residue.
Q: How do I remove newsprint ink or pencil marks from a Gel Press® plate?
A: See answer directly above. Cleaning the plate for all stains is the same process.
Q: How do I store my Gel Press® plate?
A: When you are finished printing, we recommend you clean your Gel Press® plate and pat it dry with a paper towel. To protect the printing surface when you are storing your plate, place it smoothly against the clamshell packaging, avoiding air bubbles getting caught under the surface. You can discard the Mylar sheets that come with the plate. Store the plate upright, like a book on a shelf rather than flat so that it doesn’t get anything stacked on top of it.
Q: Is the Gel Press® plate sensitive to heat and cold?
A: Yes, the Gel Press® plate is temperature sensitive and should be kept away from all extreme temperature conditions. Do not use a heat gun directly on the Gel Press® plate. If possible allow layers to air dry if you wish to do pickup printing. And do not store your plate in your car or garage when in extreme temperature conditions.
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