Gelli Skins


I had a play with something posted on the Gelli Arts FB page, making acrylic skins with Slick paint and gloss gel medium, and it was pretty cool.  Not used the scribble version (I did white and black versions but only spread the gloss gel over the white one so far) yet, but I was looking at it and thinking about it and an idea began to form.

I thought of a few substitutes.  First, freezer paper rather than page protectors (possibly palette paper might work too) for the surface to build the skin on.  For two reasons:  the freezer paper can be cut (so if you want to cut the skin with it better supported, doing on freezer paper makes sense) and second you can store the skins right on the paper.

Second, I thought, OK scribble.  Nice but what if….?

1. Cut a bit of freezer paper bigger than your plate.


I tried this two ways – both worked, but one produces a thinner more fragile skin and the other a thicker one.

Method 1: do your gelli plate as if for printing.  I don’t feel like you need open areas if you don’t WANT them, not for the purposes of creating a skin. The open areas will be transparent (or nearly so) in the end and that will mean when layering it over something else, the something else will show thru. I used just plain old acrylic paint.  Tube, rather than craft paint, because my feeling is that the thinner craft paint won’t work as well for the next step.

That next step is to carefully pull your print onto the plastic-coated side of the freezer paper.


As you can see this IS doable.  But you cannot be vigorous in your rubbing.  The freezer paper won’t be gripped by the plate, it’ll slide around if you get too aggressive.  What I found worked well was to place my hand in the middle of the freezer paper then smooth to one side, then switch hands, hold and smooth to the other side. I think you can see that print above is not too bad.

Let it DRY.

Next, spread on gloss gel medium, all over the print.  Be generous and be sure to extend the medium outside the edges of the print. Lesson learned from Method 2 is build up the medium at the edges.  Makes peeling it easier! My first experiment is a little thin at the edges.


Let it dry. Completely.

Once it is dry, roll the edges, loosen with your fingernail, but be gentle, slowly peeling the skin off the freezer paper.


Spreading the gel with a palette knife or brush leaves thinner areas.  These can tear thru when you peel the skin off.


I’m not sure it matters when you come to stick it down.  My gel medium was a pretty discount brand so it didn’t dry totally clear, but you will see later it doesn’t really matter.

Method 2: do the plate as for printing just like Method 1 but mix in a bit of gel medium to the paint before you spread it on the plate.


While the print is drying on the freezer paper, cut yourself a frame.  Mine opening was about 5  1/2  x 5  1/2 inches for the 6 x 6 plate print.  I used cereal box weight card and two thicknesses.  I pinned the print flat to a cork tiles I have for stamping.  Best buy ever, soooo useful.

Lay the frame over the now dry print.   Squeeze a  line of gel medium at the top of the print


Using a strip of firm card or plastic, pull the gel down, filling the frame for a smooth, fairly thick, uniform coat of gel over the print


You can fill in any gaps gently with the palette knife.

I added a border of duct tape to the frame, for stability and to make the edges wipe-clean but not till after I took the photos.

Let this dry. It’ll take a while. Once it’s dry, peel off the skin.  This method uses more gel medium, for sure, but oh my! did it peel off like a DREAM.

Exactly reversed – left is METHOD 2 and right is METHOD 1


and cause that looks like just a plain old print:


I still have to try a few things:

  • using iridescent medium rather than gloss
  • trying the scribble bit with metallic paints
  • cutting shapes from the skins with dies – circles seems obvious, but what about letters? Will sandwiching the skin between freezer paper  let it cur cleanly?  I think it will…..

So you are probably thinking Why make a skin rather than pull a print right on to something?  For me it’s about control as much as it is about the shiny look of the skin and the texture.  I can move it around, see where it looks best, I know what the bit looks like already, no worries about smearing a print or getting it in the wrong place.  Plus it’s kinda fun to do, and that can’t be underestimated LOL! But always interested in your thoughts on my wacky experiments…

Now loose tiles need sorting, repair man due to call later.  SUPER foggy (like Victorian London foggy, minus the smell, I imagine) outside, can’t see the end of the drive, and shopping a must, fridge cleaned out, so I’m off for the frankly scary trip up to the main road.  But first, one more cup of coffee…

10 thoughts on “Gelli Skins

  1. I’m a few years behind but I just discovered your blog through Jane Davies’s post about acrylic skins. I was just searching through google for some inspiration and your gel plate method hits the spot! Thanks so much for sharing your techniques. Really looking forward to pulling some skins!


  2. Oh, this is soo exciting- I will never get my “chores” done now! I just want to play instead of wrapping gifts and mailing holiday cards! So glad you shared this with the party!


  3. These are so much fun! And you answered my questions about ‘why bother’ – I can really see the advantage in knowing exactly what you’re putting on the page and where. Thanks!


  4. Hi, I wanted to say you always inspire me so much. Every time I see your posts I have to go play.


  5. Aloha from beautiful upcountry Maui! Love my gelli plate…so your blog is my new best read!!! The gelli skins on freezer paper are genius…. & the Cinquain (?) journal concept is very cool… these are on my TO DO ASAP list!! Mahalo for the inspiration.


  6. Another great and inspiring idea! Love it!! You’ll have to show what you use them on!


  7. AWESOME! Then, how did you use these gelli printed skins?


  8. I don’t know if you can get it over there, but I used Golden’s self leveling gel to do my paintskins over the top of whatever paint I wanted to save, like what was on my palette. It flows, so I like to put the freezer paper or plastic bag on a board, pour the gel over the paint, then tip it back and forth to make a marbled effect. I use a plastic knife or palette knife to peel it up and store them between layers of parchment paper or deli paper or waxed paper, then cut them into shapes to glue into paintings. I hadn’t thought of doing scribble ones until I saw Jane Davies tutorial on them, but I liked what you did also. You could probably put them on windows also as decorations.


    • I suspect we CAN get it (unlike Deli paper, which is rare as hen’s teeth in the UK!) but it is usually a matter of cost. Stuff that is cheap in the USA can be horribly expensive in the UK, although, like my Reeves gloss medium, there can be cheaper options. Worth having a look. Thanks for the tip!


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