The French artist Denise Crolle-Terzaghi shows us how she works and how her colourful prints are made. She uses only Schmincke Aqua Linoprint inks.
Gelatin printing is a versatile way to print with linoprint inks or slow-drying acrylic paints. Besides a gelatin plate (ready to buy Gelli plates made of synthetic gel or self-made plates made with real gelatin – recipe below) and the mentioned colours you will need a selection of materials for creating texture and pattern on your plate: stencils, textiles, dried plant material, cardboard and so on. Printing with several colour layers leads to a unique building-up of colour and depth and every print, of course, is one of a kind, a monotype. This printing technique requires some experimenting and learning and the results are surprising and fun.
Schmincke Aqua Linoprint Ink Colours are great for this technique because they are watercolour inks and so can be reactivated with water and will not dry on the gel plate and ruin it.
Gelatin Plate Printing with Schmincke Aqua Linoprint Colours
You will need:
A selection of Schmincke Aqua Linoprint Ink Colours , used here: Permanent Yellow, Magenta, Cyan, Ivory Black
Soft ink rollers (brayers)
A sheet of glass or plastic on which to roll the ink colours
Gelatin plate (ready to buy Gelli plates made of a gelatin replacement or self-made plate made with real gelatin – see instructions for making one below)
Spray bottle with water
Mark making objects (dry plant materials, threads, embossed cardboard and more)
Positive and negative stencils (cut out from thick paper or plastic film)
Absorbent paper like newspaper sheets (to remove as much colour as you can before cleaning the plate with wet cloth) and a cotton cloth
Smooth and absorbent paper to print on: drawing paper, drawing cardboard, mixed media paper (recommended minimum paper weight: 180gsm)
It helps if you cut a framing mat for registration, the same size as the paper you will use for printing. That will help you to have all the layers line up every time you’re changing colours. Position the framing mat. Roll a little Schmincke Aqua Linoprint in Permanent Yellow colour with your roller on your ink rolling plate to cover the roller with an even film of ink, then apply the ink from the coated roller onto the gel plate. Linoprint colours can be diluted with a little water if needed. Lay down some stencils onto the colour (here some paper flowers, dried plant material, some thread). Cover it with your printmaking paper and carefully press down with your hands, gently rubbing to pick up all the exposed ink.
Clean the plate and change the colour. Clean the plate with absorbent paper, then finish cleaning the plate with a wet cloth. You can also clean the plate in running water. No mediums are necessary. Roll your roller onto Schmincke Aqua Linoprint Magenta and apply to the plate. Press on corrugated cardboard to remove some Magenta colour and leave marks with no colour.
Lay on the printing paper carefully and print the second layer onto your artwork.
Now you see the intermediary result after two layers. Here you can see the colour blending from two coats of paint printed on top of one another.
Working directly on your print, add some detail on the third finished layer. Ink the cat stencil with Schmincke Aqua Linoprint in Ivory Black and use it as a stamp (mirror image inverted!). Press the stamp down with absorbent paper to prevent the colour from bleeding around the edges.
Make Your Own Gelatin Printing Plate
Denise Crolle-Terzaghi’s recipe for how to make a gelatin plate
You will need:
100g of powdered gelatin (usually 5 boxes)
350ml of glycerin
125ml water (boiled before)
1 rectangular baking pan, size around 26cm x 32cm
1 silicon spatula
1 big bowl
Pour 125ml of cold water into the bowl. Add half of the glycerin. Stir slowly until the mixture is fluid.
Add the powdered gelatin. Mix well using the spatula. Be sure that no lumps are left.
Add the rest of glycerin. Keep stirring gently, then pour into the pan.
Let the plate harden before moving the pan. Let it set up a few hours (overnight is perfect).
Slide a knife blade around the edges of the plate.
Take it out of the baking pan and lay it down on a sheet of glass or plastic.
No refrigeration is needed after the gel plate is set. You can keep it for months on your working table. Just cover it with a plastic sheet to protect it from dust when you are not using it. When you notice it is hardening or some little cracks appear on the surface of the plate, clean it and cut it into small bits. Put them into a big glass bowl, add a little water and put it in the microwave to melt it. Then mould it as previously.
It has been pointed out that the recipe seems to not require boiling water, we think it might be missing from the instructions but have not been able to reach the artist. The usual amount of water used in this process would mean that in addition to the 125ml cold water you would then add 200ml boiling water at step 3. But perhaps the artist finds this recipe works as it is.
About the artist
The French artist Denise Crolle-Terzaghi has been working for more than 30 years as an artist and a writer of creative books, published in French and translated for some other European countries. She has worked for different French and American paint companies and given masterclasses in different countries (e.g. France, Russia, USA, Denmark). The idea of printing monotypes without a press first came into her mind in 2014 after having watched some videos from the American artist Linda Germain, whose work she found more artistic than crafty. As the gelli plates were not available in France at this time, she started making her own plates with gelatine and glycerine (her recipe is above). As a writer as well as an artist she likes to build stories in her pictures. She also likes cutting paper and this technique requires a lot of die-cuts. Children, animals, and flowers are her favourite subjects. She likes to introduce them into her illustrations. She also loves to work with collected and unexpected objects to make marks in the colour layers (for example dried plants, sieves and more). Her belief: “For each good print I can make a few bad ones but when I am failing I just remember Linda’s good words “It’s just a piece of paper!” and I try and try again until I am satisfied! And failed prints can always be cut up to keep some good parts of them and used into collage projects.”
Click on the underlined link to go to the Schmincke Aqua Linoprint Ink Colours on the Jackson’s Art Supplies website. Postage on orders shipped standard to mainland UK addresses is free for orders of £39.