How to Make Gelatin Nature Prints
Imaginative Crafts, Do-It-Yourself Projects and Video Tutorials by Robert Mahar, robert-mahar.com
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6 packs of unflavored gelatin
Water based printing ink
8 ½” x 11″ Paper
Flat plant leaves
Bowls and whisk for preparing gelatin
10″ x 13″ jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with sides)
Inking plate** or piece of cardboard
1. The day before you would like to create your prints, you’ll need to prepare your printing plate. Sprinkle the contents of 6 packs of unflavored/unsweetened gelatin over two and a half cups of cool water — allow it to sit and soften for 3 minutes. Heat two and a half cups of water to near boiling and combine with cool water and softened gelatin. Whisk until thoroughly dissolved, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully pour into your jelly roll pan and place in refrigerator over night. You may find it easiest to place the pan in the refrigerator first and then carefully pour in the gelatin. Fill the pan almost to the top, noting you may have a little gelatin left over.
2. Collect foliage to use in creating your nature prints, keeping in mind that primarily flat leaves produce the best results.
3. Cover your work surface with a plastic drop cloth or recycled newspaper. Remove your printing plate from the refrigerator — the surface should be rubbery and solid. Squeeze out a small amount of printing ink onto your inking plate or a flat piece of cardboard. Roll your brayer back and forth over the ink until the brayer roller is covered in a fairly even layer of ink. Gently roll the ink onto the surface of the gelatin printing plate, creating a thin even layer of ink.
4. Thoughtfully arrange your leaves, face down, on the inked printing plate.
5. Lay a sheet of paper over your printing plate. Hold it in place with one hand and gently massage the back of the paper against the printing plate with the other hand. Carefully remove the paper by two corners to reveal your first nature print. Set aside on a covered work surface to dry.
6. Remove your foliage, lifting it off of the printing plate by the stems.
7. Place a second sheet of paper over the printing plate, again holding it in place with one hand and massaging it against the surface with the other. Remove the paper by two corners to reveal your second nature print and set aside to dry.
8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 to create as many nature prints as you’d like! The gelatin printing plate should last up to three days, keeping them in the refrigerator when not in use.
• Select foliage without thorns or sharp stems that may puncture the surface of the gelatin. You may also want to experiment pressing your collected leaves under heavy books for a day prior to using them for your nature prints.
• I chose to use a light weight paper (text weight, similar to the weight of standard copy paper), but you can just as easily use inexpensive newsprint or construction paper.
• The wet printing ink may cause your thin paper to curl or warp. If this occurs, wait until the prints are dry and then press them under some heavy books for a day to flatten.
• Create a larger printing plate in a standard size jelly roll pan by doubling the recipe used above.