Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 1

Guest post: by Sharon McDonagh — Part 1, View Part 2 of Exploring Gelatos

On July 10 Artistic Artifacts hosted our monthly “How Do I Use This?” product demonstration, focusing on the versatility of Gelatos® from Faber-Castell, part of their Design Memory Craft line. Judy was busy packing up that evening to leave the next morning for the CREATE art retreat in New Jersey, so I took over leading the group. I’ve recently become a big fan of Gelatos and was happy to share my enthusiasm for the product.

Participants in the Artistic Artifacts “How Do I Use This?” Gelatos demonstration on July 10, 2014

Gelatos tag by Theresa Koenig

During our monthly monthly “How Do I Use This?” session, participants traditionally create samples on shipping tags. Although Gelatos go on a wide variety of surfaces without any advance preparation, to give some texture and interest I prepped tags in advance for with book text, sheet music, map paper, clear and white gesso, and modeling paste texture. This Gelatos tag created by Theresa Koenig.

To a customer looking at a package in a shop like ours, maybe it’s not immediately apparent what they can do — or what sets them apart from other products used to add color. I think to fully grasp the possibilities of Gelatos you really need to try them out, or at least commit to sampling some of the huge amount of web resources for using Gelatos — Faber-Castell’s own Design Memory Craft blog is a great starting point.

And because there are so many well-done resources, this posting isn’t going to reinvent the wheel…instead present you with some of our results and tips. Gelatos are so versatile that we are going to have to make this posting a two-parter!

Gelatos are highly pigmented sticks with a creamy consistency in a twist-up tube that reminds many of Chapstick. The stick glides easily onto paper and other surfaces and are easily blendable. A straight application of Gelatos can be left to dry for vibrant color, or misted/dissolved with water to create watercolor effects. Gelatos are available in a variety of sets or sold singly in the Double Scoop® size (twice as large as the regular Gelatos).

What did we use them on? Kind of everything! Below, foreground is a square of resist paper sold in craft stores for use with spray inks. You can also see the results of applying Gelatos directly to bubble wrap, misting it, and then stamping onto a tag and paper/fabric samples.

Gelatos on a variety of swatches

Using Gelatos with the resist paper is even more fun than using sprays, because you have so much more control with the placement and intensity of the colors and how they blend, as seen in the below example, created by Judy Albert.

Judy Albert example, Gelatos on resist paper

A green Gelatos stick is pictured below. But so is a yellow one. Don’t see it? It’s what is in the spray bottle! Yes, you can create your own spray inks by cutting off a portion of the stick, mashing it with a palette knife or other implement, and blending a bit of warm water into it to make a paste that you dilute to the strength you like.

Gelatos in spray ink form

Baby wipes are perfect for blending Gelatos on surfaces. Here, in addition to creating a color blend, we are removing some of the color through sequin waste to get pattern and texture.

Gelatos on watercolor paper with salt texture

The texture on the blue corner of this watercolor paper swatch comes from sprinkling salt onto the wet surface. Any watercolor technique can be applied to Gelatos.

Gelatos tag created by Judy Albert

Gelatos tag created by Judy Albert

The consistency makes most people think of oil pastels, or soft waxes, but as an experiment I intentionally left a Gelatos stick on the dashboard of my car for 8+ hours during one of the DC area’s summer heat waves. There was absolutely no melting or change. (I can attest from personal experience as an aunt that this is NOT the result you get from crayons!)

Gelatos would thus be ideal for creating a travel art kit for use while vacationing this summer. Or even simply throwing a few in your purse or tote along with your art journal for creating on the go.

One of the “rules” we have for these Thursday evening sessions is working with both paper and fabric, regardless of what the product is intended for. Judy has long pronounced her belief that anything you can do on paper, you can do on fabric.

Gelatos on fabric and cheesecloth
I’ve applied Gelatos to a number of types of fabrics/weights, with beautiful results. Pictured above, cotton fabric and cheesecloth (I love using this in needle felting!), colored with Gelatos. Applying just a few strokes of Gelatos onto your non-stick ironing and craft sheet (or freezer paper) and misting with water gives you beautiful color, much like a dye, that can be applied with a brush, by sponging on, or by dipping in, etc. (The intensity of color varies with the amount of water added.) It’s also fun to mist your fabric with water and apply the Gelatos on directly, and add additional water to watercolor blend the colors together.

The group really enjoyed using stencils, both to push color through or to remove color (artist Dina Wakley calls this reduction stenciling) with the Gelatos that evening. Below, Suzanne Langsdorf’s stenciled fish.

Suzanne Langsdorf’s stenciled fish

Above, another of Suzanne Langsdorf’s pages. Below, Beverly Hilbert works in her art journal.

Beverly Hilbert works in her art journal

Below, Beverly’ finished page. She took it home and added additional mixed media to it, and it is now part of her Documented Life Project journal. How gorgeous is this?

Beverly Hilbert Documented Life Project journal page

Gelatos tag created by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos tag created by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos can be used with rubber and polymer stamps, but generally speaking you are going to get a sort of soft/watercolor effect on your final print, because water needs to be misted onto either the stamp or the paper/surface for the color to transfer…hence really finely detailed stamps aren’t usually recommended.

But Gelatos are ideal for use on foam stamps: the wide surface area has the perfect ‘tooth’ for Gelatos to grip and blend. Like stencils, stamps can be used to both apply color, or to pull it away. You see many examples in this posting — the spiral swirls on the tags are easy to pick out.

So, recall me saying we weren’t going to be reinventing the wheel with techniques? Turns out we DO have an area of exploration that we think we are “pioneering” — stamping with wooden printing blocks.

But as this posting it already long, I am saving that, with additional photos and info, for Part 2. View Part 2, posted August 13, 2014.

9 thoughts on “Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 1

  1. Nea Wiseman

    Thanks for the info and the art samples on the Gelatos. I keep looking at them at the art store and wondering about them. It is always nice to see some samples before plunking down money and now of course, I will have to try them!.

  2. Judy Albert

    I love using Gelatos! They are easy to use and cleanup is a breeze. I appreciate the “How do I use it” classes because you get to learn a variety of techniques in a short time and can sample the product before purchasing it.

  3. Theresa Koenig

    First, I have to say I love the “How does this work” series. Thank you to the Artistic Artifacts team for developing this ongoing workshop. It truly does allow you to create small works that you can incorporate in larger projects or just keep the tags intact as I do and use them to label my craft space bins or place on a special gift.

    The Gelatos session was great fun and they would make a perfect “small art kit” to take on travels as Sharon mentions. You get a wide variety of effects and only need water or a baby wipe to blend or clean up. I look forward to experimenting more with my free sample from the class and am bound to buy some down the road!

  4. Chris Vinh

    Great summary of the many uses of gelatos for those unable to make the product demos. Thanks!!

  5. Judy Post author

    Thank you Theresa we think the “How does this work” series has been a great success and we plan to continue the program into 2015

  6. Karen Scribner

    It’s good to see punchinello (as my husband’s grandmother called it in the 1970s) being used in a new way: as a stencil. We wove yarn into punchinella (or punchanella) or made big bows to decorate things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *