Gelatin Monoprint Mash-Up (or How to Disguise Bad Fabric)

Earlier this week I blogged about using stencils to create faux appliqué. Today I’m going to talk about another surface design technique: using gelatin monoprinting along with stamping and screen printing to create your own fabricor turn an ugly piece of fabric into a thing of beauty.

layered gelatin monoprint and screen printing

I learned about gelatin printing when I took a class with surface design expert and fiber artist Rayna Gillman, and loved the technique. I wasn’t as thrilled with the process of making the gelatin, having it spill in my refrigerator, and fielding questions of “can we eat that?” when the kids opened the refrigerator door.

So I recently bought a large Gelli ArtsTM, reusable printing plate to make it easier to bypass the prep and get right to the monoprinting. (Note: Some people prefer the organic texture of the homemade gelatin plate as well as the ability to custom-make the size. To each her own!)

Gelatin monoprinting can be done by itself on plain, dyed, or commercial fabric (and paper) or combined with other techniques. I have used most of my gel printing as one of many layers. Sometimes the layers are created intentionally and other times I use the printing process to alter fabric dyeing or fabric painting attempts that have come out too pale.

So, my first layer is dyed, painted, sun-printed, or rusted fabric. Next, I create a gelatin monoprint on top of that.

Here are basic directions for making gelatin monoprints on fabric.


Detail of my fabric. You can see the layers of dye, monoprinting (the spool pattern), and the Thermofax screen printing.


  • Gelatin plate
  • Paints or inks (Acrylic paints can be used, but good-quality fabric paints are easier to clean up and won’t change the hand of the fabric.)
  • Brayer and palette
  • Fabric
  • Found objects and tools for making designs in the paint


1. Squirt 1-3 colors of paint or ink onto your palette and blend them slightly with your brayer.

2. Roll the paint or ink onto the plate.

3. Using your found objects or tools, lightly press into or swipe through the paint. (In my example above I pressed the end of a plastic thread spool onto the plate to make my design.) You want to move the object slightly on the surface to displace the paint, but not cut into the gelatin.

4. Lay your fabric down on top of the plate and gently rub over the back with your hands. Lift up the paper or fabric and see what you’ve got.

5. Repeat the process as often as you like, trying different combinations of found objects and paint colors.

When each monoprint is dry, I might layer on some brayer printing, stamping, stenciling, or even some lines from a Thermofax screen.

The overall mash-up of techniques either works well or it doesn’t. Either way I am not too concerned, because I can always either add another layer, or conveniently file the fabrics away with other attempts at surface design to be dealt with later.

By the way, the April/May issue of Quilting Arts has an article that specifically walks the reader through how to incorporate odd scraps and cast-off strips into gorgeous, intuitive quilts. A little something to look forward to.

I’m looking forward to playing with my Gelli plate and making lots of monoprints on fabric.

P.S. Have you made gelatin monoprints? What have been your results? Leave a comment below, and a link to pictures of your fabric if you have them.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Fabric Painting & Dyeing, Monoprinting & Screenprinting, Quilting Daily Blog

One thought on “Gelatin Monoprint Mash-Up (or How to Disguise Bad Fabric)

  1. I love gelatin prints! I have used them in a majority of my recent work. I’ve even started using the Gelli plate. It’s so convenient; you can pull it out whenever you want.
    I often like to use paper resists or even pressed flowers in mine too. I’ve got a drawer full of odd bits that I collect for textures.
    I also like to use foam stamps either on the Gelli before printing or on to the fabric after printing.
    I too file mine away. Often the ones I think are failures may inspire me later when I pull it out again.