What's the old saying? The best way to learn is through teaching, or some iteration of that quote. This past weekend I taught an intro gel printing workshop. Most of the time my students have little to no experience with gel printing when the class begins. There might be 1 or 2 that already own a gel plate, but they either haven't been getting the desired results or haven't spent time figuring it out.
So we start with the basics, such as the quantity of paint to use, types of paint, types of paper, etc... and move into working with found textures and stencils. It's only one afternoon, so I try to balance the time in a way that covers what I consider the "important stuff" and gives students enough time to play with all my supplies.
What's interesting is that it always ends up serving as a helpful refresher of all the things I love about gel printing. As I talk about whether you should clean off your plate or let the "grunge" build up, it reminds me why I love grungy ghost prints. It all helps bring me back to my way of gel printing.
Below is a piece I made during a class demo on Sunday.
If you search for gel printing videos you'll find tons of ways artists (and crafters) are using a gel plate, it can honestly be a bit overwhelming. In my first gel printing class, I fell in love with the gel plate as a way to make monoprints or monotypes. The instructor's focus wasn't on making collage papers or printed papers for mixed media work, even though I now think those are fantastic uses for a gel plate. So, that's the perspective I started with and it has continued to be my goal all these years later, building prints using textures, layers, and abstract shapes that I love.
As I continue to experiment with new ideas and techniques this winter, the timing of my first workshop could not have been better. Explaining how I use a gel plate to others was the perfect refresher for my own work.