Surface Design: Monoprinting, Patterns, and More

Learn surface design techniques for printing, stamping, and pattern design.

| September 2015

Courtney Cerruti’s Playing with Surface Design: Modern Techniques for Painting, Stamping, Printing and More (Quarry Books, 2015), is a practical resource that can teach you many creative styles of surface design. She provides detailed instructions on how to make creative art projects with techniques that can be used across all mediums. The following excerpts are from “Monoprinting: Gelatin;” “Study in Circles: Tea Towels;” and “Sand and Sea Notecards.”

Monoprinting: Gelatin

Monoprints are prints that are unique in their creation. Impressions or prints are made one at a time and often include more painterly methods of image making than other types of printmaking. You can make a print from almost any surface, creating an image by painting, rolling ink over collages, or by creating textures and impressions on the surface of a printing plate. Once you’ve created a painted or inked image, you press paper to the printing surface and pull a print.

There are many ways to make monoprints. My favorite way is using gelatin because the effect is unmistakable. Rolling ink on the slick surface of a slab of gelatin, laying objects into the wet paint, and pulling a print is magic every time. The unexpected beauty in every print incites an insatiable curiosity that can only be cured with an afternoon of printing.

What I love about gelatin is that the plate stays moist throughout the entire printing process. The effect leaves you with a print that is more watercolor-like than any other method. It is hard to reproduce that painterly effect using other materials. You can use a similar process to pull prints from a silicone plate, such as a Gelli plate, but it will result in bolder prints. The printing methods in this book will work well on other surfaces (including a Gelli plate), but I urge you to try the gelatin at least once. It is simply unexpected and beautiful, and how often can you use Jell-o as an art material?

Types of Printing Materials

Botanicals are ideal for creating texture and imagery. Vines, leaves, petals, and ferns can be combined to create images that are both bold and graphic or soft and feathery, depending on how you print them. Look for plant life that is fresh and flexible and without thorns or sharp edges. Chunky, woody, or dried items can gouge the surface of the gelatin causing skips and unprinted spots on your final prints.

Fibers, Feathers, and Fabric

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