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Geometric Pattern Making Tool from Cardboard

This is just cardboard that would have been recycled and I know I can find more. But it felt like treasure. In the video, you’ll see why it suddenly made me cautious.

Cut a square tube of cardboard into smaller pieces. I found this one as packing material from an online order.

Then attach the shapes together using whatever kind of adhesive you have- glue, gel medium, double-sided tape, an ATG gun or anything else you have handy.

Next, brayer acrylic paint on to the plate. This is a very forgiving process. If you use too little, you just add more.

Then push the cardboard into the paint. Repeat as many times as you want, then put the paper on there to take the pull. Giving it a little wiggle will give you a better impression.

What if you use too much paint? That’s no big deal either. When I put all the colors on the plate, I had more paint than I had to have – I have a lead foot when it comes to squirting out paint.

The only consequence is that I got more prints and more pulls since there was ample paint.

What paper should you use for gel printing? That’s personal preference, since any paper will work from tissue paper to junk mail to cardstock. If you like working with thinner papers, then deli paper or tissue paper may right for you. If you like the feel of cardstock then use that.

I use 90lb cardstock and I have tried several brands – all of which work well. Rather than a brand, I look for the best price on the paper.

What’s the best paint to use? How to choose the size of the plate? What can you do with all the prints you’ve made?

There can be a lot of questions when you’re getting started gel printing and I’ve got a page full of resources to answer those questions for you.

Next time you’re unpacking a box, keep an eye out for interesting packing materials. You just might have a great pattern making tool in there!

{ 13 comments… add one }

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  • Jean Marmo April 17, 2019, 4:43 pm

    This is so very cool!

  • Barbara Dunbar April 19, 2019, 5:47 pm

    Very cool. I LOVE cardboard, it is one of the greatest free art supplies!

  • Susan April 19, 2019, 6:01 pm

    Loved this use of cardboard “treasure”, Carolyn! Definitely inspired me to play this way. Thanks for sharing your rainbow of great ideas! 🙂

  • Marianne Ferlazzo April 19, 2019, 8:29 pm

    Love this! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Laurie April 19, 2019, 9:00 pm

    I loved this but do not see where I can give you a thumbs up or I sure would have!

  • Leslie April 19, 2019, 9:04 pm

    I actually have some cardboard from a recent order. Can’t wait to try using it

  • Joyce Mori April 19, 2019, 10:35 pm

    That was a very clever project. I am going to try it as soon as I find the right type of box. Thanks for your weekly ideas.

  • Wendy Pearce April 23, 2019, 1:24 am

    Great ideas!
    I am house sitting at the moment and looking for some ideas I can do without purchasing more stamps and paints!

  • Klara Toth January 29, 2020, 6:31 pm

    Hi Carolyn! I hope this message finds you well. Miss seeing you now that there is no Artescape in Columbus! Have a quick question for you. What is that gorgeous violet color paint you use at the end of this video? I have been looking for it all over. I used it once in one of your classes and can’t remember the brand. Thanks ! Klara from Cleveland (part of the Linda & Tracie trio)

    • Carolyn Dube January 30, 2020, 10:11 am

      I miss seeing you and Tracie & Linda at Artiscape too! That paint is from Plaza Art but the color isn’t the same any more. I’ve tried to get it too and the purple is very very different now sadly.

  • Deborah Underwood February 9, 2020, 1:23 pm

    What a creative and resourceful way of utilizing the cardboard boxes that we receive constantly…Thank you!

  • Alka Baghdadi October 31, 2021, 1:40 pm

    Tell me the plate you used is special and where do you get it. Can we use acrylic paints

  • Lorraine Cooper December 23, 2021, 8:48 am

    Thanks Carolyn I am so over buying stencils I may use occasionally because I forget what I have!!