5th grade Botanical Gelli Monoprints

I love my Gelli plate! It’s a lot of fun to make prints with. I got a class set of 6″ x 6″ Gelli plates and wanted to introduce the students to Gelli printmaking.

I taught a version of this project with kindergarten a few years ago and it was challenging with the littles, so I thought it would be less challenging with 5th graders. Guess what? It’s still challenging – ha.

It’s tricky with so many students. I think this would be the perfect art club project with a group of 8 or fewer.

The good news is that the students seemed to enjoy the process. After our first day of printing, several students asked me where they could buy a Gelli plate. Success!

You can print with anything flat-ish. At home, I love layering stencils. I couldn’t figure out how the stencil washing would work with students and the small window of work time, so we went with printing local leaves.

This translates to spending several minutes collecting leaves every day after school. It’s kind of fun the first time but gets old after the 10th time. I worried about a student either getting poison ivy themselves or bringing leaves that were in contact with poison ivy, so I decided against letting them collect their own leaves to print with.

I set up a printing table with the leaves in the middle and the Gelli plates, the rollers, and the acrylic paint in the space in between each Gelli plate lining the outside of the table.

I demo’ed how much acrylic to squirt on your plate, how to create a composition with your leaves, how to press the paper down to create your print, and how to capture the ghost print after your first print.

For this project, the ghost print was almost always the better print.

Once we got our prints, we embellished them with either colored pencils or chalk pastel. For all the work that goes into it, the prints look wonderful. This lesson is a keeper for me but it’ll be the art club lesson.

Please let me know either on Twitter at @wowartproject or Instagram at @juliaforsythart if you have a more organized system to make Gelli prints in a class or if you have a different successful Gelli printing project. Tag me to show me what your prints look like!

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