Every winter I take advantage of the rainy weather to retreat to my studio, where I make gel prints for the whole year. Since I like to work large, I melt all of the smaller gel plates I use for workshops and use the glycerin/gelatin mix to cast a 22 x 16 x 4″ plate using my own recipe. The plate needs to be thick enough to withstand being taken out of the mold and placed on a rigid surface.
Over the years I have collected all kinds of objects to help me print textures on the plate itself. These textures are transferred to paper very easily since gel plates are very sensitive. I use letterpress wooden letters, plastic toys, string, bubblewrap, wood blocks, washers, lego pieces and rubber stamps. Some of my most prized pieces were rescued from the trash!
I hang the sheets to dry and later bind them into sketchbooks or use them for drawing. This pandemic winter I have doing both things, so I can have enough printed backgrounds for a series of ink portraits. Normally I do not use a dip pen to draw with ink, but the chalk in these gel prints tends to clog most pens… except for dip pens. During this time of social distancing I have been working from photos that I display on my cell phone. Sometimes, less detail is better. I do not make a pencil sketch first. I like to go straight to ink