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Funky Diamonds with Sublimation Paint on Homemade Gel Press Plate

sublimate funky diamond patterns on coasters

July 29, 2022

Transcribed from the Artesprix Blog of almost the same title: July 29, 2022.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may receive compensation if you purchase through the links I have provided. The price you pay for the product or service is not higher, but I may get compensated. All thoughts and reviews of the products used are my own.

Have you tried a gel press plate for printmaking? Hi, I’m Chelsea Rose. I’m a mom, maker, baker, and military spouse. I’ve wanted to try printmaking with gel press or gelli plates for a long time and a fellow art teacher friend of mine shared an at-home gel press print plate recipe with me and I’m gonna share it with you! Using Artesprix Sublimation paint with a Stamp Anniething stencil and this homemade gel press plate is a perfect trio to add a design to coasters and more!

What is Sublimation Paint?

Sublimation paint uses iron-on-ink technology to molecularly fuse to a substrate (or “blank”) product that is polyester-based or polyester-coated. With the addition of heat, the design transfers to your finished project. It’s so cool and very much like science-y magic.


Step-By-Step Tutorial for Funky Diamonds with Sublimation Paint and Homemade Gel Press Plate:

First, do you have a Gel Press Plate for Printing?

Yes? Go to Step 1. Otherwise, check out this easy tutorial to make yours at home*. All you need to make a homemade gel plate for printmaking is: 

  • 9tbsp gelatin
  • 1/2c glycerin
  • 1/2c water (boiling)

You also need something to stir with, a microwavable bowl, and a container with straight sides and a smooth bottom the size you want for your plate (like 8×8 inches or smaller). Stir together the gelatin and glycerin well. Then stir in the boiling water until clear. The first half of this youtube video describes the process. Thank you Meche for the advice on this! Or you can also check out this shorts video on youtube.

Step 1: Funky Diamonds with Sublimation Paint

Now, get your supplies together and trace your blank on paper with a pencil. Pencil will not interfere with your design. Depending on the size of your gel plate, you may be able to get more than one product sublimated with each design. I usually use one design per coaster on my approximately 8×8 inch plate. 

Step 2:

I chose to reuse makeup blending sponges from another sublimation project to apply paint to my gel plate, but you could use a designated brayer, whatever your preference. Have fun with this! Make backgrounds, pull prints from the stencil, from the negative of the stencil and more!

Step 3:

Make sure you get the paper really smoothed down onto the gel plate to pick up the design. You can lift a corner to do a peek test and lay it back down to grab the rest of the ink. Look for the design process on my youtube!

Step 4:

A little goes a long way with Artesprix Sublimation Acrylic Paint – the lightening medium is your friend! Make more designs than you need so you can choose your favorites.

Pro Tip: Blend colors on a palette and pick up with your sponge or brush for more muted designs. Squirting paint directly from the bottle makes a bold statement!

Step 5:

After the paint has completely dried, pre-heat your heating element to read 400° F. Apply heat tape to adhere the design to the blank. I chose one design page per one coaster but could have done two corner to corner. Two or three pieces of tape is fine, use more if you are using a craft iron or home iron vs. a heat press. 

Step 6:

Next, make a sandwich with Artesprix’s siliconized protective paper. The sandwich needs to go protective paper, blank, design, protective paper, then heat source; from bottom to top. This mainly protects your heat press and equipment from the iron-on-ink.

Bonus: The special bundle over on Artesprix until the end of July 2022 is buy 4 get 1 free of the protective paper – such a great deal!

Step 7:

This project presses at 400°F for 60 seconds. To double check the recommended press times go to Artesprix’s directions site.

Pro Tip: If your projects have been coming out a little “burnt” (maybe your blanks are warping, the colors are a little more yellow-ed or orange than you’d expect) use a temp gun to check if your heat press is calibrated. Just like home ovens, some heat presses can run too hot. Adjust as needed. For instance, my heat press needs to be set at 370 since it runs too hot!

Step 8:

After 60 seconds has elapsed it’s time for the peek test! Be careful – the blank is hot! Try to peek without letting the tape get unstuck, that way if the project needs more time, your design is still lined up which will prevent ghosting!

Step 9: See the Funky Diamonds with Sublimation Paint Take Shape

Next, repeat for the remaining coasters, then let cool before decorating your table and letting them serve their purpose with a yummy refreshing drink on top. 

Step 10:

I just love the vibrant colors of the Artesprix Sublimation Acrylic Paints. Choosing to use a simple pink to yellow ombre for my color play means that all the coasters go together without being too matchy matchy which works great for my home decor. This printing process really highlights the one of a kind pulls you get from each pass. It’s pretty addicting to do!

In Conclusion

The possibilities are endless when armed with a homemade (or store bought) gel press plate for printmaking and sublimation acrylic paints. Even without stencils, you can make prints with found objects like leaves, strings, your kid’s blocks, magnet letters, old doilies, bubble wrap, and more! 

Check out other ways to use gel plates with sublimation on the Artesprix blog: easy way to mirror stamped text or to make beautiful patterns on bags. And, if you want to see what I’m up to in Japan – come follow along over on instagram (I put lots of fun foods that we try in my stories). Thank you for reading and would love to see what you make next!

*More Gel Press Plate Tips: Store your gel plate in an airtight container in the fridge if you live somewhere particularly humid. The water will evaporate overtime but if you need to, you can re-melt and remold again in the future when the plate gets gouged!

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