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What’s the right way to store your gel plate? You’ve probably heard conflicting ways to store them from different people. The reason for that is there is more than one way to do it. Keep reading to find out the reasons behind storing your plate, because when you understand why something happens it is so much easier for you to confidently choose the way that fits you best.

To figure out the best way for you to store your gel plate, you’re going to need know something about you (that’s easy, you probably know you pretty well) and about gel plates. What I’m sharing here is for any gel plate that has squish, like a Gel Press plate. After all, that is the big factor that lets a plate do its magic.

So let’s talk about you.

What type of creative are you? Do you like everything you own to look factory new even after years of use? Do you let your art supplies get covered in paint and they stay that way? Or are you somewhere in between?

How much space do you have? If you have a studio larger than an Amazon warehouse you have a lot more options than someone who has a just part of closet to store their supplies.

Now let’s dive into gel plates.

There are only 2 things that I avoid at all costs when storing my gel plates. First, I avoid anything that is absorbent that causes the mineral oil in the plate to leach out. So that means papers, or anything that when left on a gel plate for an extended period of time creates an oil spot. That’s why I love using the plastic protectors that come with the plates or cheap copier transparency sheets. Be sure to use ones that have no coating on them.

Second, I avoid storing them in weird or drooping positions. So no hanging halfway off the shelf kind of a thing or resting at an angle. I store mine either horizontally or vertically so that the plate will hold its shape.

One of the benefits of stacking gel plates is it lets me have them all within arm’s reach. Any time I stack gel plates I tend to store them horizontally. When stacking plates that are different sizes, I keep the plastic on both sides of all the gel plates and stack them in size order, with the largest on the bottom.

Anything that is trapped for a while between the gel plate and the plastic can leave an indentation in the plate. Air bubbles can leave indentations, a strand of hair, or anything else that gets in there. Those little indentations don’t impact my prints the way I print so I don’t worry about them. But that’s me and what’s important is that you store your gel plates in the way that fits your needs the best.

But how can you store your gel plates if you want to avoid those?

If you store it between the plastic sheets, put the plastic on carefully and brayer out any of the air bubbles. Another option is to store them with nothing on top such as on a shelf or in a drawer.

Since I use my plates all the time, there is never any dust build up on them when I store them on a shelf. If you only use your gel plate infrequently, you may find that dust accumulates on them when left uncovered, so having a cover of some kind over it may be helpful.

The bottom line is storing a gel plate is about it keeping its shape and storing it away from the things that will draw the oil out of the plate. There isn’t one single way to do this so you have the freedom to choose the way that fits you best.

Now that you know what to look out for when storing your gel plate, you can look at your stash and storage options to choose the answer that is best for you.

If you’ve found that understanding why is helpful, check out my gel printing workshops, because they are all about understanding why so that you can get the most out of your gel plate.

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You’ll see my pen struggles, my OOPS stenciling, and a surprising message that came about on the page as I add more layers to an altered book journal. And you’ll see the cost of my impatience, that I don’t mind one bit.

The stenciling began by going up and down, the best way to get a crisp image, but then the cosmetic sponge went side to side. That’s why some of it is neatly done and others have a looser look as I’m using the Hash Marks stencil by Mary Beth Shaw.

It feels faster and like a huge time saver. Saves a good second. Maybe two. Of course, it feels like that is 20-30 minutes in my head.

Stencils are a tool that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Supplies that have multiple uses and work with a variety of other supplies give you most mileage.

Here I’m using a pen with the Small World stencil. When tracing around the stencil you can get very precise lines and if you free hand it, it’s a much looser look.

Word stencils can be used just as they are or you can mix and match the words to create new phrases. That’s what happened here as I used my It’s Time to Play stencil. Words were pulled from two of the quotes to fit what was evolving on this page.

The journal that I’m using is an altered book. That’s the fancy way of saying a regular book that I have repurposed into an art journal. I don’t prep the pages, I just start playing on them.

Not only did the page have many layers, so did the meaning of the words. It reminded me to walk around the nonsense that is out in the world right now.

There’s lots happening this year that needs to be taken seriously, things that are very important. And there’s also nonsense. It’s knowing which to walk around and which to take seriously that’s important.

On a lighter level. one of the things I am not going to take seriously is coloring inside the lines. Art journals are a great place to play and if you’re looking for ideas and ways to get more play in your journals, check out my free workshop, Permission to Play. It’s about play, not experience so this free workshop is great for both beginners and experienced art journalers.

Here are the supplies used. Some of these links are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage. For example, I’m an Amazon Associate & I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and you get a really good feeling knowing that you are helping keep the free tutorials coming!


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You can take trash, like the lids from water bottles, paints, cosmetics, or anything you have to make circular patterns on your Gel Press plates! You’ll see how using up every last little bit of paint gives you the ability to create the varied layers on some of these tags!

The tool used to make this pattern is just a bunch of lids glued to a piece of cardboard. You can use any lids you have from the orange juice jug or the cap from a finished tube of paint or a water bottle cap or the lid from your used up cosmetics. Keep an eye out in your trash or recycle bin for those circles!

Gather a bunch of lids then find the ones that are all the same height. I keep a bag around to collect these in and when it gets full, I pull out all the ones of similar heights to create a gel printing tool.

The variety in these tags is from using up every last bit of paint on the plate. That’s how the grungy layers were created.

If you have a paint that is older or starting to thicken up, it may do something like this. This tube of purple paint is near the end and it’s old so those two factors lead it to not spread as evenly or smoothly as younger paint.

If you ever have older paints, give them a try on your gel plate- it just might give you a cool speckled color variation like this purple did!

Creating all this variety was fast and each and every tag is one of a kind! This is just one of the ways you can use a Gel Press plate- if you’re looking for more ideas check out my page of gel printing resources!

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