Homemade Gelli Plate

Sounds like a new recipe doesn’t it? Well, there is a recipe involved but you won’t want to eat it. But it can become addictive.

On some of the comments on the Documented Life Project Facebook page, I was noticing people talk about using a gelli plate. I had never heard of it and our local craft stores did not have one. So I did what my grandson told me when he was quite young and I was not able to answer his questions- “Just Google it, Grandma!”  I watched a lot of You Tube videos of people using gelli plates to make beautiful paper prints that could be used for all kinds of papercrafting. Even my grandkids were fascinated with the videos and can’t wait to try it.

When I saw the price of ordering a gelli plate, I decided it would have to wait a while. The prices range from about $30 to near $100 depending on the size. I want to make sure it is something I really like first.  However, I did see several ways of making your own homemade plate. Here’s one. Here’s what I did:

Gelli Plate IngredientsI bought glycerin (100% pure vegetable glycerine) from our local natural food store as well as bulk gelatin (you could also buy the Knox packets of gelatin in the grocery store but the bulk was cheaper.)

First step was to put enough water into my pan (an 8X8 inch glass pan) to measure 3/4 inch deep. Then I poured the water into a measuring cup to see how much liquid was needed total. I needed 3 cups total.

I poured 1 1/2 cups of glycerin into my measuring cup. Then added 6 Tbsp of gelatin to the glycerin and carefully stirred until it was mixed in. The ratio of gelatin needed is 2 Tbsp gelatin to 1 cup of liquid.Adding GelatinThe next step was to measure 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, add the gelatin/glycerin mix and stir until the gelatin was completely dissolved. Adding boiling waterWhen the mixture looked like it was dissolved and clear I poured it into my glass pan. There were a few bubbles but they quickly popped when I touched them with a flat knife. Next step was to stick the pan into the refrigerator (uncovered) and let it set. Making gelli plate moldAfter it was set (like VERY thick jello) I used a sharp knife to go around the edge of the pan to loosen the gelli from the walls of the pan. Cutting edge of gelli plateThe plan was to loosen it and then gently pry it out with my fingers from one edge and it would fall onto the glass cutting board I was using for my base. Well, that was the plan, but I tried to do it too quickly and tore the gelli. Torn Gelli PlateNot to worry though. I broke it all up and put the glass pan into the microwave for 2 1/2 minutes and melted it all again. It was back to the fridge to set again. By the way, you can do that as much as you need to in order to fix it after gouging or tearing it. You also can melt it to put into a new size or shape of pan.Microwave gelli plate repairsFinally, after reseting it, I got my gelli plate out of the pan without mishap and started playing today. Gelli PlateI had so much fun experimenting to see what I could do. Here is just a sample of some of my playing today. The creative possibilities are endless. I’ll show you some more details in another post.Sample gelli prints


Homemade Gelli Plate — 36 Comments

  1. What kind of paper did you use when doing the printing with the gelli plate? Enjoyed your blog.

    • Connie, thanks for reading our blog! I have used paper from a drawing tablet as well as regular white paper that I use in my computer printer. I am trying some other types of paper as well, like tracing paper, cad stock, deli paper, and smooth lightweight watercolor paper. It’s fun to experiment with various materials to see what happens. There’s really no right or wrong to it- some things you try to print on will work better than others. Just give it a try and see what happens. I have printed on fabric as well. There is also probably some scientific explanation about the way prints turn out that I have not investigated- like how much humidity is in the air and the paper or how old my paint is!

      • Do I need to use a glass pan, can I use a plastic dish?
        How do you store your plate!
        Looking forward to using it. Thanks

        • I use a glass pan because I put it into the microwave to melt and reset it after use. I cover the pan with plastic wrap after it sets for storing on the shelf in my craft room.

  2. Hi!
    I just made a faux gelli plate today. Yay! I can’t wait to play with it.
    The instructions I received from Linda Germain was to leave it on the counter to harden. I poured the mixture into the same dish that you have and it hasn’t totally set up. Hopefully it will by tomorrow.
    Your prints provided some inspiration.

    • I put mine in the fridge to harden it. I think you will have lots of fun with it!

  3. How long does this type of homemade gelli plate last and do you have to place it in the frig to extend its life or keep it from spoiling?

    • I am still using the first plate batch I made in January nine months ago. Each time I am finished using it I rinse off all of the paint flecks still sticking to the gelli plate and then break up the gelli into pieces and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes. I microwave it in the same glass pan I let it set up in. For the first few months I was putting it into the fridge to set up and just stored it in the fridge until I used it again. However, for the past 3 months, I have just been letting it sit on the counter after microwaving to set up. I have been storing it on my craft table instead of the fridge and it is still doing fine- no mold or anything. The reason I microwave it after each session of use is to get rid of any gouges or scratches I happen to put into the surface of the plate when using the various tools and texture items. Try gelli printing– it’s so much fun!

  4. Can’t wait to try this. I love leaves. Natural things. Now that I’ve found your tut on how to the plate, I think I can give it a go. I just hope my eyes is as wonderful as yours. Thanks so much.

  5. I did not like the smell of the alcohol so I used a cheap 80 proof vodka and added 1 teaspoon vanilla and it smells wonderful.I didn’t know that vodka had no odor, someone told me this and I think it is wonderful so I keep my gelli plate on my craft table, I made it a year ago and used it a lot, thought other might like to know this.

    • I had read someone’s dog ate the it’s made with rubbing alcohol and wondered if vodka would work too! Thanks for the post! I have a cat & I know gelatin, being a pork &/or beef product, has to smell good to them (chicken & turkey often have that gelatin around it after cooking from the tissues!)
      I wouldn’t want any pets to get info vodka either, yet it’s probably far less toxic than running or denatured alcohol, often used in manufacturing of plasticized products!
      I’m going to try to whip some up tonight from some vodka left over from making vanilla extract! 🙂
      I figured I’d have some use for it eventually! 🙂
      Thanks again!

      • What alcohol? I read and re-read this page and found no mention of alcohol, except in these comments. Did I miss something?

    • Just to update- I am still using my original gelli plate batch I first made in January 2014. I still rinse it off after a session of using it, then reheat it in the microwave in my glass pan, let it set up again and leave it covered on a shelf in my craft room until ready to use it again.

      • Any suggestions for reheating if you don’t have a microwave? Thanks
        Well it would be handy to know what else you need besides my name and email address. I don’t have a website

        • Hi, you can break up the pieces of the gelatin plate and melt them in a sauce pan on the stove. Then pour the melted gelatin back into the pan you want it to set up in.

  6. hi! I found this post in a comment on the journaling Bible community facebook page. my granddaughter & I made our gelli plate on Saturday from your instructions. we haven’t had a chance to play with it yet – but I’m sure we will have a lot of fun with it. thank you for sharing your experience – it was an encouragement to me to give it a try!

  7. Found this recipe today I had to give it a go. The hardest part is waiting for it to set. I want to play now but have to wait …..arrrrrrg…… I do hate waiting. I didn’t follow your recipe exactly I’m more of a chuck it in and see sort of crafter ….. I’ll let you know how I get on …

  8. cristine, this might happen if the plate is not made thick enough or not enough gelatine was used.(2 heaped tablespoons to each cup of liquid!). 3/4″ seems to be a good thickness. I have had my Gelatine/Glycerine plate sitting on a plastic cutting board for months. When I finish printing I place a plastic grocery bag loosely over the top to prevent evaporation, and it is as good as new.

  9. how long does it have to stay in the refrigerator to set, when making it the first time?

    • Nicola, I left it in the fridge overnight before using my gelatin plate, so I am not sure how long it actually took. Every time I have reheated the gelatin plate in the microwave, I have left it out on the counter to reset and it is always firm the next day.

  10. How long do you have to put in the microwave for repair?
    I made mine in a plastic picture frame 11x 14 it was a good size for me to work with. Thank you for your time

    • Libby, I put the gelatin into the microwave for 2.5 minutes in the glass pan. Since you are using a plastic frame, you may want to put your gelatin into a glass bowl for the microwave and then pour it back into your frame to set.

      • I so appreciate you getting back to me. 😊 Thank you
        Now I know what I will be doing tomorrow as it is snowing
        Can’t go out, this will be a lot more fun. 😊

  11. Thanks for very precise recipe for making gel mats. I an looking forward to starting up this week. C heers.

  12. Hi,
    I wonder why you have to reheat after each use…and if that may be because your recipe possibly have too little gelatin?

    Wonder if someone would like to try this one:

    196 g gelatin
    1 1/2 cup glycerin
    1 1/2 cup water

    I think you should be able to use this one for quite a long time without reheating – unless the plate accidentially gets torn or worn.

    Mine has never been in the fridge, and I found no reason to reheat.

    Good luck!

    Great site:-))

    • I have made my gelli plate according to this recipe, and I even added more gelatin after it tore while removing from the pan/mold. I remelted it, let it solidify, and even when being extremely careful removing it from the pan, it tore again! What am I doing wrong? I am very anxious to use this plate…. any suggestions? Thanks so much……

  13. Gracias por la receta. Queria preguntar Se puede echar aceite al molde de Pyrex antes de echar la mezcla, para que no se pegue el Gelli Plate y salga más facilmente cuando enfríe?

  14. Se puede engrasar el molde de pyrex antes de echar la mezcla? Funcionará para desmoldar facilmente el gelli plate cuando esté listo?

  15. I made a gelli plate using 7 tablespoons of gelatin, 1 1/2 cups of glycering and 1 1/2 cups of water. When removing from the pan, even though handling very carefully, the weight of the plate tore it. I know it can be remelted. Should I add more gylcerine or more gelatin to strengthen it?

  16. I have a homemade gelli plate and after only a few days, noticed that the edges were becoming stiff and hardened! ( and not performing well at all on those areas) My recipe was the permanent one…. HELP!

    • Blanche, sounds like you may need a bit more gelatin in your recipe. Allow 2 HEAPED TABLESPOONS for each cup of liquid. If you used 7 tablespoons to your 3 cups of liquid, try re melting it and adding another 1 heaped tablespoon of gelatin. When it is set (try in the fridge for couple of hours), firmly stroke one corner till it lifts, gently coax that corner up and get your hand under it. It should then lift out with gentle persuasion! Store on plastic or Perspex lightly covered to stop dust.