Living This Creative Life

I have two favorite quotes. The first one is by Emile Zola, "If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I would tell you that I came to live out loud". I don't know who the second one is by, but it goes like this, "If you're not living on the edge then you might as well jump". Both of these sentiments sum up my personal philosophy of this experience we call life on earth. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Exploring Gelatin Mono-Printing

This is a new piece that I finished recently. The Exploratory Fiber Arts Group that I'm in was playing with Gelatin Mono-Printing this past month, so I spent several days in my studio playing with jello - painting really.

The quilt is 36" wide x 20" tall. All of the fabric began as a pale yellow/gold hand dye by Susan Brooks.

Solstice Leaves: DAY ONE

Step #1; I started by making a gelatin mold in a 11" x 17" jellyroll pan (the recipe is at the bottom of this post).

Step #2; I cut two stencils, one a large square, the other a slightly smaller circle and chose two rubber stamps that I had previously cut - the leaf and a small, hollow square.

Step #3; I mixed up four different shades of paint, a dusky red, dull blue green, dirty squash and a dank, darkish yellow gold.

Step #4; I covered my work area and got out some paper plates (paint pallets) and some 2" rollers along with an Afro pick. Then I cut three rectangles from the hand dye that were just slightly larger than my gelatin plate.

Step #5; I knew I wanted just three blocks even though I had four paint colors. I chose not to use the yellow/gold paint in the background of any of the blocks because it was somewhat close to the base fabric color. Beginning with the lightest color (so I wouldn't have to wash the gelatin plate), I painted the entire surface of the plate with the dirty squash color and a roller and laying down a somewhat heavy coat. Then I curved the Afro comb through it in wavy lines. Next, I laid down one of the fabric rectangles and ran my hands over the surface, transferring the paint.
I lifted up the fabric and set it aside to dry. I painted the next rectangle blue green and the third one red, using the same rolling and combing technique. The first rectangle was dry by the time I finished painting the third one. Then I wiped down the print plate with a soft, wet washcloth.

Step #6; I laid out the three blocks and decided on a layout so that I could choose the layering colors appropriately. I decided that the blue/green should be in the middle. Next I laid down the square stencil and painted inside it with yellow/gold (again the lightest color first) using a roller. Then I carefully lifted off the stencil and laid down the red painted rectangle and ran my hands over the back to lift off the print. I did this again with the orange on the green rectangle then with the green on the orange rectangle.

Step #7; I used the same techniques as above to print the circle shape on each of the rectangles.

Step #8; I finished each rectangle by stamping on the leaf stamp in the remaining forth color.

Step #8; I took the remaining yardage of the yellow gold hand dye and stamped it with the small 1 1/2" hollow square stamp using all four of the paint colors and overlapping the shape and filling the fabric with the design.

Solstice Leaves; DAY TWO

Step #1; I cut up the all over print with the small overlapping squares to use in between the blocks and pieced the blocks leaving a wide border along the bottom.

Step #2; I was unhappy with the lack of balance in the piece and knew that I needed to add something along the bottom so I ripped some smaller rectangles from an unpainted section of the yellow/gold fabric and stamped each one with a different color leaf. Then, I found a darker yellow/gold in my stash and ripped three rectangles that were about an inch larger than the leaf rectangles. I layered the painted leaves on top of the dark gold rectangles and pinned them on to the quilts surface and was pleased with the results.

Step #3; My least favorite! I basted the quilt top with cotton batting and put a great circle print from Alexander Henry on the back.

Step #4; Then the fun began - the machine quilting. I used four different stitch outs, each in thread that matched the area that I was quilting. In each of the large squares on the three rectangle blocks I stitched a concentric square design (very geometric). In each of the circles I stitched variously sized small circles. In the wavy (from the comb) backgrounds, I followed the waves and then I stitched in the negative lines of the leaves. Because I quilted so heavily in the blocks I needed to stitch rather heavily in the background area too, but I didn't want to disturb the mass of little squares so I simply stitched lines, 1/4" apart, alternating straight with curvy.

Step #5; The next day I sewed on the binding. I didn't have any fabric that matched so I had to go to the store and pick something out. It was tough matching up that dull blue/green - not one of today's popular colors!

Gelatin Recipe -
Begin by measuring how much liquid it takes to fill the container you plan to use. My jellyroll pan takes exactly 8 cups to reach the lip of the pan. Empty the pan of water then place it in the bottom shelf of your refrigerator and make sure that it is level.
For 8 cups use the following recipe;

10 packets of gelatin
open them up and mix with 3 cups of cold water - let dissolve and thicken.
Boil 6 cups of water and add to the gelatin, whisking gently until dissolved.
Use a paper towel to pull off any foam then gently pour into the container waiting in your fridge.
Let chill for at least two hours. Use to paint then cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks and use over and over. The gelatin plate will disintegrate little by little as you use it, but that just makes for more interesting opportunities!

Till next time,


Carole said...

Thanks Heather. Laura and I are exploring this technique. Your info is very helpful.

Anonymous said...


Stephanie Smith said...

Thanks Heather! I'm reading your color book which I'm loving and just did a google search to see if I could find more information about your quilt "leaves" in the complex color section of the book. I'm amazed to find your step by step instructions in how you created the quilt. Wow!! Thank you so much for posting this and for your wonderful book!

Stephanie Smith said...

One question, what types of paints did you use?