jelly printing envelopes

jelly printing with a gelatine plate

jelly printing for beginners

Even though it was purely the name that drew me in  (because I love jelly)  jelly printing has proved to be tremendous fun. Jelly Printing is a bit random; there’s no guarantee that when you lift the paper you’ll get exactly the print you were expecting. Over time the Gelatine Printing Plate changes too, which means that even if you did exactly the same for every single print, you’d still get variety. I get pretty easily bored by repetition, so it suits me fine. In The Barley Barn, Ruth and I have been teaching people how to make simple Jelly Prints like the one above, though Ruth has renamed it “Printing without a Press” to make it sound a little more adult like and serious. The truth is that Jelly Printing is a wonderfully easy printing method for any age.

If, in the spirit of home-spun creativeness or half-term entertainment, you fancy having a go at making some simple jelly prints using plants or feathers, then read on.

Firstly, you need to make your Gelatine Printing Plate. I suggest you start off with A5 size as it doesn’t take too much gelatine and it’s an easy size to work with. There are recipes all over the internet for making your own plate; some are made simply with gelatine and water, others include sugar, alcohol, glycerine or vinegar. I make my plates with powdered gelatine, water and glycerine using this recipe, which simply involves a bit of stirring and then pouring into a mould.

Once you’ve made your Gelatine Plate, you’re ready to print.

You will need:

  • A gelatine plate
  • A flat surface for your Gelatine Plate – a chopping mat, Perspex sheet, plastic tray, smooth glass shelf from a defunct fridge or Formica type worktop work well
  • A palette for your inks – again a chopping mat etc will do the job
  • A brayer (roller) – the sort used for lino printing
  • Water based printing Ink or Acrylic Paint
  • Flowers, leaves, grasses, feathers … avoid thick woody plants or anything with sharp thorns that will make holes in your Gelatine Plate
  • Paper, card or sticky labels

Get ready:

Gently ease your Gelatine Plate out of its mould and carefully plop it onto the board.

Squeeze a little ink (about a teaspoonful) or paint onto your palette and roll your brayer back and forth to coat the roller. If your ink seems very sticky, spritz over a little water to thin it.

Roll a thin layer of ink onto your gelatine plate. Don’t worry too much about getting a completely even coating as a little unevenness and texture can add interest to the finished print (I’m no perfectionist and can always find a creative excuse for being slapdash).

Lay down your plants on the gelatine plate, with the most textured side face down in the ink. Cover with a piece of paper and firmly smooth over with your hand, making sure you follow the contours of the plant and reach right into the corners of the paper. Remember that if the paper doesn’t come in contact with the gelatine plate then it won’t get any ink on it.

Pull your print:

Now, carefully peel back the paper and you have a silhouette print of your plant.

If you’ve laid down too thick a layer of ink you might want to take another silhouette print; it won’t be as dark as the first, but it will lift off any residual ink.

Lift the plants and feathers from the Gelatine Plate using your fingers or tweezers, which will leave a clear inked image on the gelatine plate. Take a clean sheet of paper and lay onto the Gelatine Plate, smooth it down with your hands and then peel it off. You should now have a wonderfully detailed print of your plant.

jelly printing labels - detailed prints

Try printing with different colours, layering one print on top of another. Print onto cheap newsprint, expensive art paper, pages torn from books, sticky labels, card or copier paper and make envelopes, gift tags and bookmarks. Tear up prints and make collages, use the prints for scrapbooking or art journals. Or just frame your amazing prints and admire them. The labels above are detailed prints and the envelope below is made from a silhouette print with blue ink overlaid with a silhouette print with yellow ink on photocopier paper.

jelly printing envelopes

Believe me, this is just the beginning. Have fun.

There’s a few ideas for Jelly Prints here on the Slamseys Art Pinterest board.


5 good things for Easter

five good things for Easter …

playing with fire

ONE: Playing with fire as we try out some ideas for  courses at Slamseys Art. Foraging walk with lunch cooked on the campfire anyone?


TWO: Bread Huffers, which seemed appropriate for Easter time.

hot cross buns

THREE: Cross Buns.

Hot Cross Buns today. Toasted Cross Buns tomorrow. Bread and Butter pudding for Easter Sunday.

Easter biscuits

FOUR: Easter Biscuits, which should be round but aren’t. Ignoring instructions to roll out the dough and use a cutter, I thought it would be easier to make a log and cut it into slices. Those pesky little currants proved rather difficult to saw through and the log grew flatter and more misshapen as I progressed.

FIVE: Young people doing good things. Essex Young Farmers is a fantastic organisation whose chart-topping challenge is in aid of the NFYFC’s Rural+ campaign, which is raising money for the charities Young Minds UK and The Farming Community Network. The campaign aims to raise awareness of rural isolation and mental health issues in young people and support those who suffer from, or are affected by them. 

You can read more here:


And now, the sun is shining and I’m going outside to sow seeds and sort out the flower beds. Got to get it looking pretty for June.

Slamseys Art in The Barley Barn

The Barley Barn stands in the corner of our farm yard. To the east are the traditional farm buildings – the old cowshed, another old Essex barn and the house while to the west is the working farm yard with modern grain stores and sheds.

The Barley Barn was probably built around 1800 and appears to have been cobbled together from several older buildings, with some of the posts dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries. No longer suitable for modern agriculture, the Barley Barn lay virtually unused and neglected with rope holding down the roof, rafters rotting away and some decidedly dodgy looking brickwork at the base. At the beginning of 2011, faced with expenditure just to keep the barn standing (it’s a Listed Building so letting it fall down was not an option) we sat down to work out a Grand Plan to renovate the barn so it could be put to use once again.

Barley Barn Aug13

Two years later, after bat surveys, historic building reports, planning applications, unsuccessful grant applications, business plans and a forest of paperwork, the builders started work. The small adjoining shed was knocked down, the roof and weatherboarding were stripped from the Barley Barn and the concrete floor was dug out to leave a glorious skeleton of beams. Gradually, everything has been replaced, though not necessarily as we would have chosen. As the barn is Listed, rules regulate the materials we can use, so we don’t have the internal finish we’d have liked (and what we have has cost us more) and the insulation is less efficient than we planned. Hey ho.

But, despite that, the building is gradually coming together. The roof is on, the walls are boarded and the doors are hung. There’s still plenty more work to do on the barn but, when it’s finished, The Barley Barn will house an Art Gallery and Exhibition Space and be used for craft workshop days. Our daughter Ruth, who’ll be running Slamseys Art is planning classes in crafts such as floristry, screen and lino printing, photography, upholstery and jewellery making. There’ll be Hand Made Wedding workshops for brides-to-be and Hen Weekends with Life Drawing and Nipple Tassel Making, which sounds um … interesting.

So, do any of you bright sparks out there have ideas for original and exciting classes? Have you been on an inspiring course or is there a craft that you’d like to try? Maybe you’re a tutor with skills to share.  Anything considered. All tips, advice and warnings will be gratefully received.

Christmas wreath making


I don’t decorate inside the house until Christmas Eve, when we bring in the tree and greenery but I thought it would be nice to put a cheery wreath on our door. We have a selection of wreaths, that we sell alongside our Christmas trees, and I could just unhook one and spirit it away. But, they’re all the same; uniformly made, lined up in regimented colours and remind me  of women with neat haircuts who look smart whatever they wear. As I have a rather more relaxed appearance, it’s not surprising that I prefer a slightly less formal and structured wreath.

It’s easy and quick to make a simple rustic wreath with small, whippy branches of hazel or willow cut from the hedgerow. Make a circle with one stem, overlapping the ends and then twist the overlaps around the circle. Tie the circle together with twine and then one by one, twist more stems around the base circle, overlapping them as you work around the circle. Tie at intervals with twine if it looks as though the whole thing will burst apart and leave to dry for a few days. Once dry, you can cut the twine, though I leave it tied in one place just to be on the safe side.

from the garden wreath
This is my “From the Garden” wreath using feathers, crab apples, rose hips, teasels and ivy that I picked from the garden and poked into the base. None of it is wired in, so if we get a windy day then the whole thing might fall to pieces, but until then, it’s hanging from a door that I can see from the kitchen sink.

herb wreath
The herb wreath is made with bay, marjoram, thyme and rosemary pushed in and tied onto the base with ribbon and is hanging on the back door so that instead of putting on my boots to go out to cut herbs, I can just snip them off the wreath. By the end of December it may be rather denuded.

By Christmas next year The Barley Barn will be completely renovated and Slamseys Art wil be holding courses in it. I’m going to book into the wreath making course so I can make a proper wreath that’s held together by more than a wing and a prayer.