So! Our Man Cub is back from the wilds of Florida, at last! I was thinking that while he was away, visiting with the grands for a week, that, having the whole desk to myself (we share a desk, yanno), I would be able to get lots of things done,* right? I was going to take advantage of quiet space and lack of distraction,** and Do Work. But that didn’t happen. I mostly missed the Cub, worked a bunch of hours at the museum, and came home to watch a bunch of Warehouse 13 episodes on Netflix. In the dark, because it was too hot to have the lights on.*** While eating carryout.

Over the week I did, tho get to some stuff! For one thing, Dearest Will and I got to take in the Zentangle exhibit in Whitinsville  on Friday at the Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery in the front offices of Alternatives Unlimited. Which was a wonderful after-work date. We came home with the book from the show (all proceeds from book sales go back to Alternatives Unlimited, to boot), and tons of inspiration.

Also, I finally got around to trying out gelatin prints! I’ve been fascinated with this form since running across Linda Germain’s site† a few months ago, and dearly wanting to try it out. And so I did. So here’s how it went in my kitchen –

So in order to print from gelatin, you need a gelatin block. Making the block was not terribly tricky, but it did involve waaay more gelatin than I had imagined. In order to get it nice and firm, as well as big enough to work with you need 12Tbsp of gelatin (I used Knox Gelatine†† – it’s pretty cheap and readily available in the grocery store baking aisle. 4 boxes covered it) and six cups of water, half of which is boiling. You mix the gelatin with the cold water, and then slowly add the boiling water.

Then you pour it all into a plastic-lined baking pan and chill over night in the refrigerator. The resulting block of business is what you put the ink on and make prints from. (You can see here that the bottom of mine isn’t smooth – that’s rumples from where the gelatin got under the saran wrap when I poured it into the pan. Because I know you’re curious, I did the research for you –  if you get gelatin stuck to the pan, you can just scoop most of it out with your hands and then wash the pan in warm soapy water to remove the rest.)

Then the printing begins!

I used Speedball screenprinting ink, and picked up two colors††† to start with. I am told that you can also use block printing ink, acrylics, and other paints.

So you put the ink on, you drop a stencil on, and then you put paper down and rub it to pick up the ink. My favorite sets of stencils were botanicals. Specifically, vegetable leaves. Here’s chard and arugula –

You actually get two prints from this – one print that’s ink all around, and blank space where the stencils are; I actually discarded most of these. For the second print (below), you (carefully!) pick up the stencil before you print – you can see the ink that was under it has been textured by whatever you laid down.

You can also use rubber stamps or other textured items to lay another color on top of the one that you have brayed onto the block (you put the ink onto the stamp and then gently press it to the block. Fun Fact: you can use light colors on top of dark colors and it won’t disappear the light colors), or directly stamp into the block without ink in it to create white space. Below, you can see how I used the end of a romaine lettuce as a stamp (thank you for the idea, Suzi!)

Eventually, I realized that you can also just ink up your stencil, lay it down and then remove it to make a print. Here’s arugula leaves and a rabbit stamp, printed onto a dictionary page –

I still have tons to learn. Next time I make up a block (I’m told you can use the same block for a few days if you wrap it in plastic and stick it in the fridge. Turns out my fridge is pretty cold – my block froze on the top shelf in the fridge and just wasn’t right after that.) and do this again, I’ll post up another set of pix.

For the best instructions on doing this yourself, Linda Germain’s has all kinds of resources, tops and tricks – check her out!

***

*I do love that we share a desk, really. But also, sharing a desk means that there are a lot of interruptions – for example, I know more about what happens on Reddit than I would take the time to find out if we did not share a desk.
**Dude, there are few pleasures in life like sharing a cup of chai and some great conversation with one’s teenager. I’m just sayin’.
***Also a hindrance to productivity, as if the lights are off, I can’t type reliably. Read: my touch-type skills are iffy.
†I love here site – there are tons of videos that show you technique, and lots of information. I totally felt like I could take this on, just from reading up.
††Do you remember Jello Jigglers? You’d mix up a batch of Jello with an extra packet of Knox in there and then you could cut chapes out of the jello and pick it up? This is like that, only way more firm.
†††I thought I got black and red. The red turned out to be magenta. Remember, friends, don’t just look at the jar; read the durned label.

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