4 Gelli-printing and Monoprinting Terms Good to Know

an art table with green and yellow monoprint art papers, a Gelli plate, a brayer, and other tools

How Gelli-printing and monoprinting “discovered” me

Has Gelli-printing and monoprinting discovered you? Or, are you discovering it? Have you tried making monoprints with your Gelli plate yet? (Pro tip: ‘monoprint’ is a fancy way to say Gelli print.)

I’m a self-taught mixed media artist who’s been stumbling into new ways to play with words + colors since early 2015. This is how Gelli printing, also called monoprinting, wiggled its way into my world in 2022.

During an online community night that I host, I asked gals to share something they love doing in their art space. Excitedly, the Gelli-printing creators shared their ideas, tips, and insistence that we MUST try Gelli-printing and monoprinting!

gelli printing and monoprinting with a Gelli Arts brand Gelli plate and homemade painting masks from index cards

Since I had purchased a Gelli plate two years before and had never opened it, I figured, “What the heck! Let’s give it a go!” As the story goes, the rest is history… Let the Gelli-printing and monoprinting begin! 🙂

Four words you’ll probably bump into as you’re learning this fun technique…


When you roll out the paint onto your plate, you’ll need to roll off the excess paint that’ll be on your brayer. You’ll do this between colors and as a final step in laying down the paint. Where to put it? Well, let’s not waste it! Keep papers or a discarded magazine/book close by to “roll off” your excess paint. Voila! You now have roll-off papers, another art-making supply at the ready (which can also be placed on the printing plate, embellished with collage papers, painted or inked on…) So many possibilities!

Gelli-printing and monoprinting tools and supplies on an art table, including a brayer and a roll-off magazine


A rolling tool with a handle used to thinly apply paint, ink, adhesive, etc… Most definitions will tell you it’s for printmaking and therefore, ink. I say, Use it for everything! There are soft and hard varieties. I prefer my soft brayer made by Speedball. It covers well and cleans up easily after a day with both of my Gelli plates. (yes, that’s plural… another story for later!)


The opposite of a stencil. Let’s start by talking about what we DO know. Most of us are familiar with stencils. We may have used them as kids in art class. Maybe we use them now in our art-making, home decor/design, or crafting. Stencils are the cut-out areas we (carefully) daub paint through. Masks are the opposites of stencils. Masks can be the remaining piece after you cut out the stencil (if you make your own) — the framed pieces of a stencil. Some might describe it as the “negative.” Masks are also shapes you cut out or anything that ‘masks’ an area of your plate and paper when you’re printing.

easy-to-make printing masks: I often use shapes cut from file folders, index cards, household boxes, or heavy magazine pages, and random objects like the thick rubber band in the picture below.


mono = one.  print = the process of transferring text, images, or designs to paper. Put them together and ther ya’ go! A monoprint is a single, original image created on paper (or another surface) from the Gelli plate (or another surface). In this way, monoprinting is a fancy way to describe Gelli-printing.

During my short venture (about 9 months now), I’ve learned lots of things while practicing monoprinting. Here are a few…

  • When using different-weight papers at the same time on your Gelli plate, ‘pull times’ will vary and should be factored into your process.
  • A paper’s age, type, and weight all influence the monoprinting process.
  • Paint types influence monoprinting results: weight, quality (pigmentation), water vs acrylic.
  • Weather is a factor, apparently. My northern U.S. friends tell me they have a hard time with humidity in the summer months (and without central air conditioning). Since I only work in humid conditions & central air, I haven’t experienced differences in that way.
  • Alcohol markers add wonderful marks to a plate & offer beautiful results.

So, there you have it. Four words you’ll probably run into when you’re learning about Gelli-plate printing and a few takeaways to consider. If these piqued your interest or you found this post helpful/interesting, be sure to check back for more posts about my Gelli-printing & monoprinting process and share this one with a friend (or ten!) by tapping the buttons below. Thanks a bunch!

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My Favorite Supplies* in this Post

Gelli Arts printing plate

Speedball soft brayer

Want more tips from one of my favorite resources? Be sure to visit GelliArts.com for lots of inspiration.

*Disclaimer: not currently an Amazon affiliate