Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 2

Gelatos tag created by Marjie Curia

Tag preprepped with found papers, clear and white gesso, and modeling paste texture, colored with Gelatos by Marjie Curia.

— View Part 1 of Exploring Gelatos

On Thursday, August 14, 2014 we are having Jen Bell, one of the members of Judy’s Altered Minds (JAMs) come in to lead us in a demonstration of how to use ICE resin and Susan Lenart Kazmer’s ICED Enamels, cold enameling powders and inclusions on paper/illustration board to create Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). Jen brings her creative efforts every month for exchange and everyone goes nuts for them, so she has generously agreed to share her processes. Join us!

So, now that we are a month away from the previous session, it is long past time for Part 2 of our posting describing the versatility of Gelatos® from Faber-Castell, isn’t it? (Part 1 is available here) I was busy packing merchandise up for the CREATE art retreat in New Jersey, so Sharon McDonagh took over leading the group. We’ll begin with her continuation, and conclude with my “assignment,” which I undertook with my personal creative team!

Exploring Gelatos Part 2, section A, by Sharon McDonagh

Gelatos love texture, so they work beautifully on velvet. We took some pale pink velvet ribbon and completely transformed it.

Applying Gelatos to velvet ribbon

Above, stroke different colors of Gelatos directly on ribbon and blend with your finger. Mist with water if desired for blending. As noted in Part 1 of our article, you can also apply just a few strokes of Gelatos onto your non-stick ironing and craft sheet (or freezer paper) and mist that with water to create a puddle of beautiful dye-like color that can be applied with a brush, by sponging it on, or by dipping the fabric in, etc. Vary the intensity of your color by altering the amount of water added.

Gelatos on velvet ribbon

Above, quite a transformation from the original pale pink (top), wouldn’t you agree? (The heart is a punched piece of watercolor paper: this had several colors of Gelatos stroked on without any blending, then it was misted with water. The bit of color meld and texture you see was created simply by the water application.)

Gelatos with Wooden Printing Blocks

Tag colored with Gelatos and stamped using wooden printing blocks

Tag colored with Gelatos and stamped using wooden printing blocks.

Okay, so onto our discovery, as promised in Part 1. As noted then, Gelatos are ideal for use on foam stamps, because of the foam’s texture…and thinking of surface texture got me wondering about using wooden printing blocks.

Rather than risk it with Judy’s extensive stash, I first tried this with my own block, a mermaid. It worked! After success with a solid color print, I realized that with the Gelatos’s stick form and thick consistency, I could color areas of the block selectively. Painting selectively is hard to do when using textile or acrylic paint on your block, as by the time you get to one area, the paint is drying up elsewhere. With Gelatos being “activated” with the addition of water, you have a longer working time.

Below, a mermaid print on paper. The background was lightly colored with Gelatos and stamped with a foam circle for bubbles. The bottom ‘ocean floor’ is homemade washi tape, artist tape colored with Gelatos. Below the mermaid you can see the wooden printing block used to create her.

Mermaid stamped using a wooden printing block colored with Gelatos

Below, Beth Richardson’s mermaid print, on created on Roc-lon® Roc-rol™ Multi-Purpose Cloth™.

Beth Richardson's Mermaid stamped using a wooden printing block colored with Gelatos

Selectively applying different colors of Gelatos to a wooden printing block

Above, selectively applying different colors of Gelatos to a graphic circle wooden printing block.

I’ve applied Gelatos to a number of types of fabrics/weights, with beautiful results. But my experiments with fabric had previously all been done with the intention of using the material in either a mixed media piece or an art quilt that wouldn’t be laundered.

To answer a customer who emailed us asking whether Gelatos could be used to draw on fabric for a quilt, I took a piece of a heavy cotton fabric I had “dyed” with Gelatos and soaked it in cold water… I saw little to no color discharge. Using warmer water and a detergent, and scrubbing at it, did remove some color, but the overall look of the fabric was still bright — so there is certainly a strong degree of color permanence, even without planning for it or pretreating the fabric in any way.

But how about treating the fabric to purposefully create colorfastness?

Because Gelatos can be activated by and mixed into any acrylic medium, I wanted to try using Jo Sonja’s Textile Medium to treat the fabric and activate the Gelatos. This is a water based acrylic medium used to convert acrylic paints into fabric paints that, once heat set, are permanent and able to be laundered.

Gelatos stamped on fabric and paper using a wooden printing block

Above, a comparison of results. The top right corner is the wood block printed onto paper. Below it, the block misted with a sprayer filled with a mixture of roughly half water and half textile medium. On the left is a swatch where the fabric was dampened with the textile medium mixture, and the Gelatos-covered block stamped onto it (not misting the block with water). As you can see this resulted in the most bleeding and spreading.

Both swatches shown here were later washed with cold water and mild detergent and the color and print were permanent; no bleeding or run-off. I think this concept certainly bears further exploration. Because Gelatos are in a near-solid stick form, the ratio of textile medium to water to Gelatos is still up for experimentation to determine what works best….applying it to the fabric versus the block or stamp, the ratio used, etc.

Since Judy had been out of town for our Gelatos demo and play, she wanted to explore Gelatos on fabric further. Take it away, Judy!

Wooden printing blocks ready to stamp

Exploring Gelatos Part 2, section B, by Judy Gula

Our mission, as accepted, was to play with wooden printing blocks (pictured above), fabric, and Gelatos. My team members are Layla, Evan and Celia (pictured below, left to right).

Layla, Evan and Celia help Aunt Judy experiment with Gelatos

With the goal of achieving color permanence, we prepared a length of muslin by soaking it in Soda Ash and letting it air dry. If you feel that ironing is needed after the treated fabric dries, use a medium heat iron, as high heat might burn the soda ash and cause a brown mark on the fabric. (If this does happen to you, my experience has been that the brown marks will wash out.)

Then, laying the muslin over our foam printing mat, we were ready to apply the gelatos to the wooden printing blocks.

Step 1: Apply Gelatos to wooden printing blocks. Cover the block surface well.

Evan applying Gelatos to bird block

Step 2: Spritz block lightly with a mister of water. We found this the most difficult to gauge…frequently we put too much water on the block.

Misting the wooden printing block to activate the Gelatos

Step 3: Apply the moistened, Gelato-coated wooden printing block to the fabric. Below, Evan is stamping on Multi-Purpose Cloth.

Evan stamping onto fabric

Below, Layla stamping with a wooden printing block.

Layla stamping

Below, Celia is creating a background by rubbing Gelatos on the Multi-Purpose Cloth and then adding water with a paint brush.

Using Gelatos to paint Multi-Purpose Cloth

Using Multi-Purpose Cloth, Layla painted a background by applying Gelatos and then using a wet brush. Below, she is pictured ready to apply the Gelatos through the stencil.

Layla ready to stencil with Gelatos on her Gelatos painted cloth

Below  are several of the fabric pieces we created, combining several techniques. You can see the kids experimented with using PITT Artist Pens by FaberCastell to outline some of the stenciled and wood block printed shapes:

Stencil and block prints with Gelatos

Below are our treated fabric samples; all of these were done with the soda ash prepared fabric. As I mentioned, the learning curve was definitely the spritzing of water, as it was difficult not to put too much on the woodblock, which resulted in some smears (hey, that’s arty!). Look for the finest spray mister top you can find.

Fabric samples before laundering

But as you can see below, even after washing in cold water with gentle detergent we did not have any additional bleed or run-off. Even the Pitt Pens (small outline in turquoise bottom right corner) did not bleed.

Fabric samples after laundering

So based on the results of both of us experimenting, Gelatos can be made permanent on fabric. As with the manufacturers caveat of using rubber stamps, if you are using wooden printing blocks, expect a watercolor effect rather than the sharp crispness you would receive from an ink pad.

If you are interested in using Gelatos in a fiber project that needs to be washable, we recommend experimenting yourself with these methods to determine the best way to proceed.

In conclusion…Gelatos are a fun way to add color to a wide variety of surfaces, as illustrated below. Left,more homemade washi tape, top right is corrugated cardboard and sheet music topped with children’s air-dry modeling clay (stamped with a shell wooden printing block), all colored with Gelatos, bottom right is embossed Grungeboard.

Gelatos on a variety of surfaces

Below right, tag washed with Gelatos, topped with modeling paste applied through a TCW stencil. The white modeling paste was mixed with Gelatos to tint it blue prior to application.

Modeling paste tinted with Gelatos

Have fun playing and experimenting yourself!

Exploring the Possibilities of Gelatos: Part 1

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

On July 10, 2014 Artistic Artifacts hosted one of their “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 in different sizes.

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.