I pretty much always do a quick heart lesson with Kindergarten in February as the students spend a lot of time learning about heart health in PE and doing Jump Rope for Heart. I recently purchased some 6x6 inch Gelli plates and decided to give them a try. The first class cut out symmetrical hearts and used them as a mask to make a negative space heart in their print and after that the students drew with cotton swabs.
The students got to take the printed heart with them at the end of class and the actual print stayed at school. The tempera paint dries super fast on these prints. If you have acrylic paint, even cheap craft paint, it rolls on to the plate more evenly.
Gelli plates have been gaining popularity over the last few years. I always thought they looked cool but couldn't find room in my budget to order a class set. I've won a couple challenges on the smARTteacher which come with $100 gift certificates to Dick Blick. Score! I decided to purchase 4 6x6 inch Gelli plates with my most recent winnings that I can share between my two schools. Here's how we used them:
I called the whole class around one table and gave a demonstration of "inking" the plate by rolling tempera paint with a brayer, using texture combs to remove a bit of paint (subtractive method), putting my paper heart in the middle, then placing a square of construction paper over the top, rubbing, and removing the paper to reveal the print. I grabbed purple, pink, and red tempera and had a stack of warm and cool colored construction paper cut to the same size as the plate, 6x6. I didn't want to mess with trying to "register" bigger paper so a bleed print worked well. We talked briefly about the effect warm colored paint would have on warm and cool colored paper so the students could choose what they wanted to try. After the students wrote their names on their papers and cut out the hearts, they came to my table 3 at a time to try the monoprinting center. (Forgive me if it should be monotype instead of monoprint. I can never remember the difference!) The students who were waiting or already finished either worked on a project from the previous class or used modeling clay or blocks. They are very used to using centers in this way so it was just fine. Cutting the hearts, however, was tricky as I expected. It was such a rush to finish that in following classes, we skipped the heart mask and instead used cotton swabs to draw designs on the plate.
When we didn't have to mess with cutting hearts, we had time to make ghost prints. Ghost prints are so fun, and I sometimes prefer them to the first generation print. Basically after the students pulled the first print, they used a second piece of paper (this time just 6x6 inch white drawing paper) to pull a print with whatever paint was left on the plate. Sometimes the ghost print doesn't have enough paint to really show up, but you can usually see most of the design. Ghost prints can be fun to work back into with other media.
|Ghost print on the left, first edition print on the right. The Gelli plate is at the top. I don't like to clean the plate until they get really dirty because I like the surprise effect of a bit of leftover color.|
A lot of the fun of printing with a Gelli plate is layering and seeing how the plates pick up textures. I let some 3rd graders give it a try, and another batch will have a chance in coming weeks until they've all had a turn.
I also enjoy using my gelli plates at home. I have a 6x6 and an 8x10. I'd also really like to get a circle plate. If you are interested in learning more about printing with Gelli plates, I can try to answer your questions and/or you can follow Gelli Arts on Pinterest or other social media for ideas and tutorials.
I purchased my Gelli plates from Dick Blick because I had gift certificates but they are also available on Amazon. They're a bit of an investment but can be used countless times!