portable gelatin printing

Gelatin or 'gelli' printing has become very popular around the world as a versatile, cheap and easily accesible printing process. It is usually used on a table top but is readily adapted to a portable system.

The Process...  ink is rolled onto

a block of gelatin which is pressed against

a textured surface and then onto paper.


This prints a detailed image of the surface

on the paper.


Only one image is produced at time,

each one is unique.


The process is very simple, delightfully

messy and easily portable.


Knot 1 website

The gelatin...  food gelatin

intended for deserts is quite adequate.


A generous amount can be mixed with a

small amount of cold water, heated until

the gelatin melts, then poured into a



This will produce a perfectly usable

printing block that will last for days or

even weeks if stored in a fridge.

For something much more durable

substitute half the water with glycerine.


The paper...  good quality,

300 gsm, smooth surfaced paper is ideal.


Paper with a textured surface looks nice

but will lose a lot of detail.


I use rough 320gsm hand-made paper

from Khadi. I prepare the printing area by

first soaking the paper in hot water to

soften it, then use a hot metal press to

produce a flat surface. 

A5 sheet prepared for printing.
Bark beetle 1 website

The ink...  I have tried Speedball acrylic

printing ink, Caligo safewash and even waste

ink saved from my inkjet printer.

The Speedball acrylics can benefit from an

extender to slow down drying time.

Caligo safewash works very well and is

my current favorite, however this type of

traditional  oil based ink is spectacularly messy

due to it's very slow drying time, it seems to

get  everywhere.

Tango 1website
gelli printing, gelatin printing,

Making it portable...

 A small sized printing block is probably

 a good place to start.


Mine are about the size of a large business

card which produces a nice size image on

an A6 greeting card.


A mould will need to be found or made

which is the correct size. Business cards

come in plastic boxes that can be used as

a mould and afterwards, for storage.


Various sizes can be bought cheaply on



To use one as a mould, line it with thin

card, line this with cling film then pour in

about 10mm of gelatin.

Let it set then lift it out.



Mould website

Foam support...  the subjects I

use for printing are usually not flat.


Mounting a printing block onto a foam

support allows it to be pressed into

hollows. Kitchen scourers are about the

right size and work well.


To join them together turn the block

upside down then gently and very briefly

melt the surface under a grill or with a

hot-air gun.


Carefully place the foam on top, the gelatin

will set quickly and stay securely attached.



Scourer block

Going bigger...  it is possible to

work with larger printing block and larger



The same system can be scaled up using

a larger mould and multiple foam pads.



Large prints can also be built up using a

'tileing' technique.