This is a unique challenge blog where we are inspired by and focus on the Vintage; shabby; mixed-media; art journaling; industrial, timeworn and steampunk genres and encompass the talent, flair, expertise and ideas of many artists that we are inspired by. We welcome all types of projects - cards, journaling, assemblage, layouts, albums, atcs, altered art in fact whatever you want to share (as long as it is in good taste).

Monday 24 March 2014

Destination Inspiration – Gelli Distress

Hi everyone and welcome to our Destination Inspiration post where we provide you with a variety of ‘articles’ to inspire, motivate, provoke your thinking and enrich your creative experiences or, as in my case today, show you experiments to see what can be created with just a short ‘play time’ (well I think it was about two and a half hours). 

A few weeks ago I taught a beginners class making mono prints by using the gelli plate. We had great fun using acrylic paints and using a variety of tools and mark making supplies to see what we could create. The morning ended with us trying out what we had learned with distress inks. So this gave me the idea to have another session at home and show you my experiments.

Here’s my starting point.



I collected together everything I thought I would need (but still had to pop off and get other bits during the session – but I guess that’s because our brains will go off in different directions).


Trying to keep things fairly simple I thought I would keep to a routine of media on gelli plate and here we have got weathered wood, rusty hinge and dried marigold distress inks (DI), dabbed on directly using the ink pads and then rollered over.


Press in something to create texture (and remember don’t use anything sharp as it will leave a lasting impression on your plate that you won’t be able to get rid of).

Place paper/substrate over (I used cheap copy paper for these experiments) and I rubbed with my hands to take the first generation mono print.


I always roller off the inks/paints etc. onto another piece of paper and used these in the printing process.
So we have achieved a simple print.


Next I added textured ribbons, DIY dry wall tape and punchinella on the inked plate and placed a sheet of paper over all of it and rubbed …..


…. but what it produced was far to regimented for me and not what I was looking for.


However for the next print (when I had removed all the ribbons etc.) I used the previous mono print to add another layer to it and I began to see possibilities.


I played with other things to create texture like crumpled paper …….


……. and bottle tops with peacock feathers and shabby shutters distress inks. You can see the potential for great journal pages here.


I started to play with masks pulling a print over the top of the mask (using one of the new ones that has not long been released)  ….


…… then the mono print after the mask had revealed what was underneath and I began to envisage these with DIs blended through other masks over the top.


This is the latticework mask used with tumbled glass and pumice stone – again the print taken over the mask ….


…. and mask removed.


I learned a lesson here, I kept the mask up the right way only to find the numbers ended up the wrong way when I had finished.


So I had to do it again and flipped the mask over  (I am lucky to have two of the ruler masks, I had bought one last year and then got given one on the Tim Holtz retailer training I did last year – so lucky).


This was printed over a rollered piece of paper.



I also dallied awhile playing with distress stains, but they proved to be too watery really.
Back to distress inks -


I rollered the background with distress inks, placed the mask over and then added some walnut stain distress stain through the honeycomb and pulled a print.


Before I removed the mask I dabbed walnut stain DI pad over the honeycomb and took another print, this time I used walnut stain and rusty hinge together.


Now I removed the mask and laid over the rollered off paper …..


…. and finally I placed the inky mask over a previous experiment so you have two layers of masks showing.

I decided to have a play with distress paints too, I had been playing for a while, not wiping the paint off between prints and decided to just roller antique linen over the plate which still had lots of bits of colour on (sorry no photo, got carried away with what I was doing) -


Here the print was pulled through the mask and the greeny colours have been pulled from previous layers ….


and here the mask was removed and the mono print taken which pulled some greens and rusty hinge DPs.


One last painty print where I had been playing with the splatter mask and used rusty hinge DP, I just rollered the back of the inky mask onto paper and for the second layered print I used broken china and evergreen bough DPs with the cargo, honeycomb and bubble masks imprinted into it.

When I thought I had finished for the day I found I had three rollered backgrounds I could use so I grabbed the latticework mask -


Here the background is evergreen bough and antique linen rollered off then mowed lawn and pine needles distress ink pads pressed over the mask -


There was still enough ink left on the gelli plate so I laid another piece of paper over and got a much lighter second generation print over an iced spruce background.


Lastly I pressed the same green pads over once again and laid a piece of spare paper that had been rollered off and had stamping over it too. You see I just can’t stop can I?????

Some of these pieces I like just as they are but others I can see being used with blended inks and masks. Next time I am going to go directly onto card so I can die cut my tags and create immediate backgrounds.
I am still something of a beginner myself to the gelli plate but I had great fun, I hope I have inspired you to play with the distress products and see what you can create too.

Thanks for reading right through to the end.

hugs {brenda} x0x


  1. Brenda...this is a wonderful tutorial using gelli plate techniques. I have a gelli plate but don't play with it very much. This post has given me some inspiration to try out some of these very cool techniques! Great tutorial and photos. Thanks for taking the time to create this very informative post! <3 Candy

  2. Wow, fab techniques with DP, Brenda! TFS

  3. I don't have a gelli plate, but when I see detailed articles like this I wish I had... great read, thanks Brenda.

  4. Hello Brenda thank you so much for such a great post with so many techniques. I don't have a gelli plate, nor a brayer but they are on the wish list. Really enjoyed all you shared with us and the time taken x

    1. Thanks Carol, I love the gelli plate because of it's thickness and softness, but I have also tried with a rubber mat (like the ones you use with embossing machines). You can get similar effects and its worth trying it out to make sure you would really use the gelli plate.

    2. thanks for this Tip ... will try it and then I´ll see if this becomes a techniqu for me

  5. Wow Brenda, I never thought I 'needed' a gelli plate but you are making me change my mind. This is such a fantastic and informative post - thank you! Anne xx

  6. I too am a relative new comer to the gelli plate and am at the experimenting stage so it was great to see what you've been doing Brenda - fabulous photos and thanks for all the info xx

  7. Very addictive isn't it!!

    Love how you've used the distress inks, I've only had one play up to now and mine consisted of acrylic paints.

    Thanks for sharing your experiments.

    Sam xx

  8. This is brilliant Brenda, like others have said, I have resisted the plate so far, but you have pretty much convinced me I need one now! Brilliant tutorial with fantastic photos! Now I can't wait to see what you are going to do with some of your experiments!

    1. Have a play with a rubber mat first Astrid and see what effects you get then move onto a gelli plate if you think it is for you xx

  9. All looks like so much fun! And some lovely results too... another much-needed nudge to get that Gelli plate out and play!
    Alison xx

  10. This is brill Brenda, love what you've done and what you've created! A fab tutorial, thanks for sharing it. I'm still fighting shy of my gp as I don't want to damage it but I think, today, I might just take the plunge! Chris xxx

  11. I just had a wonderful journey. Want to go and try it. And a very good
    explanation. Thank you Anneke.

  12. Fabulous tutorial Brenda. I have a Gelli plate and you have certainly inspired me to play with it, your papers are stunning and will look fabulous in yur beautiful projects.

    TFS and huge hugs

    Annie x

  13. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I have resisted getting a plate but I keep thinking I need one! Your post has me moving closer to getting one!!

    1. As I have replied above Maryanne it's worth experimenting with a rubber mat first, it's much thinner and you don't get the softness of taking the print, so I find you get 'hard' edges, but it's still great fun and if you like your results you know your experiments will work with a gelli plate too. xx

  14. Thanks for taking us througj your gelli tutorial. I've been wary about using distress stains and inks in case they permanently discoloured the gelli plate.

    1. Good point Deborah. What I found is that it cleaned up perfectly. There is a slight tinge of colour to the plate now but in my opinion nothing to impair it's future use. Thanks for asking. xx

  15. Thanks for this! I bought my gelli plate last year and haven't had a chance to use it yet..great inspiration, X

  16. Brenda, this is a great and detailed tutorial and the prints are all amazing! What a fun class it had to have been and you have me really thinking about making the GP plunge! I just worry about how it would work here in the desert with our lack of humidity! Other techniques I have tried (wall or decorative painting), tend to dry before the technique can be completed! Remind me some day to tell you about a wall technique I attempted and newsprint sticking to the wall!!! Loved your tutorial and all the inspiration you shared. Hugs!

  17. Thank your for such a fabulous detailed tutorial Brenda. I have been swithering over whether to get a Gelli plate, but hadn't thought about using it with Distress Inks. What fabulous prints you got! It is now on my wish list! Thanks again for such an inspirational walk through x

  18. These are gorgeous Brenda and answer a question I have been wondering about as I wanted to know if it would work with inks - thanks for the tutorial and for sharing these gorgeous papers Karen x

  19. Thanks for such an informative post Brenda - I really don't know much at all about gelli plates so this was a great intro. Looking forward to seeing your creations with these prints. Nicola x

  20. Brilliant tutorial and such fab results, looking forward to seeing your future projects

    Jools x

  21. Thank you Brenda, this is a brilliant tutorial and fabulous papers you have created! I have only used acrylic on my plate but will give distress a go! Thank you. Barb x

  22. I know what I'll be doing today! Thanks so much fot this helpful and inspiring tutorial.

  23. Fabulous tutorial now I need to get mine out and play again love getting painty great excuse!


  24. Hi Astrid,

    Thanks so much for this great tutorial. It is realy helpful. ou are a great mixed media talent:)
    Thanks again and have a nice week!

    Warm Wishes,

  25. This is fab Brenda thanks so much for sharing. After I played with mono printing the other week I really thought about Gelli plates but I knew nothing about them until now. This will be going on my ever increasing wish list. I hope to get my first Distress Paints next week if I am a lucky girl :0) I really am enjoying getting inky and all this is very much due to your wonderful inspiration. Looking forward to the next workshop very much indeed, not long now. Hugs xx

  26. Thanks Brenda for so a detailed tutorial. I have tested the gellli plate with acrylic paint but not with inks. For sure I will give it a try! Results are amazing!

  27. Wow Brenda! This is amazing! Thanks for playing with paints for a couple of hours. I seriously love all of the incredible images you achieved with a gelli plate. I do not have one, but it looks like it might just make ease its way to the top of my "Gotta Have This!" list. Wonderful way to use Distress Paints :) Looks like you had a lot of fun!!!! -- Mary Elizabeth

  28. I've never gone for a Gelli but must say with these results I'm sorely tempted! Love the way it works with DP's. Fantastic tutorial Brenda. Jenny x

  29. I am sooo addicted to my gelli plate! I've used the Distress paints, but haven't used the inks yet, because I had heard they can stain the plate...have you noticed this? Or do you think it could cause a problem even if it did?

    1. You do get some staining Kim, but mine was very light. I don't think it is going to affect how I use the gelli plate. Lets face it some people just don't clean theirs at all and leave it smothered with paint. For me it was use them with the plate or only use acrylic paints - nah let's go for it is my motto. xx

    2. Thanks! I'll give it a go then! And yes, not just the plate, but some never clean their stamps with no alepwas afraid it will plug up some of the details.

  30. Brenda, do you find the Distress Paints stain the Gelli plate or not? I have wanted to try them, but was afraid they'd permanently stain my plate.

  31. Great tutorial! I wouldn't have thought of using Distress Inks straight onto a Gelli plate!!

  32. Great tutorial! I would not have thought of using Distress Inks on a Gelli plate!

  33. This was a great tutorial on your "experiments"!! My dearesr friend Jamie D. gave me one a few months ago and I've yet to open it! Now I can't wait........going in my special room to start! Thanks again.

  34. I am totally a novice and never seen/used GP. You seem to have achieved very interesting backgrounds with these techniques. What is a bit confusing to me is the photo that shows all the tapes/punchinell etc. textures in white. How did they turn out to be white? Sorry for the dumb question.

  35. Fabulous tutorial Brenda. Annie bought me one last year and I have never used it. So guess what I'll be doing at the weekend. Hugs Rita xxx

  36. I love my Gelli plates. I have had them about 6 months and I love them. My small ones should be here any day! All the Gelli plate videos and experimenting are great to learn what works. I have a big pile of things that I use to create backgrounds and textures. Carolyn Dube does great videos and many others. Don't be afraid to try them! I have showed the techniques to youth and adults! Thanks for your ideas too!

  37. Fantastic, will definitely have to give this a go! Thanks for sharing all your amazing pieces.