Flowers of Freedom with the Gelli Plate

Hello everyone! It’s TC here, with my final tutorial as part of the 2018 Creative Team. I can hardly tell you what a great year it’s been and how grateful I am to you for letting me be a part of Get Messy this way. Seriously, such a gift. ((Wipes away a tear))

Today I’m going to share a simple addition you can make to your art journal pages: deli paper flowers. I’ll breeze through three ways you can easily put together this textural element using deli paper and a gelli plate, then we’ll create a spread together that uses an image transfer of our own faces and we’ll top it off with our flowers.


  • Gelli plate and brayer
  • Modeling paste
  • Stencils
  • Deli paper
  • Favorite acrylic paints in favorite colors
  • Matte gel medium (fluid matte medium will work if that’s what you have)
  • Ephemera (sheet music, book pages, scrapbook paper, etc.)
  • Dry adhesive
  • A couple paintbrushes and/or a palette knife
  • A photo of yourself. A photocopy of a photo will work (it will be a bit smudgy but you can clean that up) but if you can find an actual photo that’s your strongest choice.

Gather the Goods

Gather your favorite colors and ephemera — think sheet music, book pages, lotka or origami papers, whatever you’re drawn to. Don’t worry about it making sense, just give yourself permission to listen to your intuition. The ephemera will be used later on when we create our spread. Deli paper is the one unusual thing it will be nice to have.

Warm up with the Gelli Plate

First, we’ll be making prints on deli paper. The nice thing about deli paper is that it’s inexpensive, a box of deli paper lasts a long time, it’s flexible and pretty strong, and when you put it into your journal it creates a semi-transparent effect. We’ll be twirling ours into flowers, which doesn’t work as well with regular paper, but you could make tissue paper flowers and bypass the gelli plate.

Note: If you don’t have deli paper, it’s still fun to make gelli prints on regular paper. Because I often use the results as additions to other pages, I like to use a thinner paper that’s not as heavy as watercolor paper; even regular printer paper works fine.

Twisting Freedom Flowers

[NOTE: Sometimes I think it’s helpful to know where you’re headed, so I’m going to give you the next steps and then show you in the video. Make sense? Here’s what we’ll do with the Gelli plate prints…]

Once you have a few printed sheets of deli paper, do some journaling on those papers. When making these flowers I got to thinking about how our experiences inform who we are. There are habits we’ve formed, hardships we’ve gone through, and each of those remain with us in different forms.Rather than those being a chain around our ankle, we can seek to transform them into something beautiful and useful, an adornment that accents who we are, that expresses some of our inner landscape.

Here are a few things to get you thinking as you journal on your deli paper:

  • What difficulties have I overcome this year?
  • What things continue to be hindrances to my growth?
  • Are there relationships that keep me trapped in behaviors I don’t desire to continue?
  • How can I put into practice my values?
  • How do I handle criticism and is that a healthy approach?
  • What steps can I take to become more free in my self-expression or interactions with others?
  • Are there things I should leave behind as I look towards the future?

As you journal, be aware that we will cut these papers to make our flowers, but even if your writing doesn’t all show up in a finished flower, it will inform the result, and you’ll know what went into the process of making these flowers of freedom.

You can create those flowers in advance of making your spread, or you can hold off and make them once you’ve got your page created. It’s up to you.

Colors, papers, and an image transfer of ourselves

Now we’re going to use our favorite colors and materials to make a spread. Grab the colors and goodies that speak to you of freedom, including the freedom to unapologetically like what you like!

We’ll be doing an image transfer and I challenge you to use an image of yourself. I know, I know, that gives people the heebie-jeebies (I feel ya — I’m often hesitant to do this too), but because we’re focusing on freedom, consider pushing yourself to greater freedom even in regards to your own image (and self-image).

Here’s one little detail with image transfers: I’ve heard that photocopies don’t work very well. However, I’ve tried using them and have had mixed results. So my vote is to try it and see what happens. I think sometimes the details are less defined, and the color can be a bit muddled, but sometimes that works out for a really cool effect. If you don’t have an actual photo on hand, just printing one out from your computer or phone can still work for this project (but you might want to try on an extra piece of paper before you commit).

Here are two other spreads I made using the same steps and techniques, just so you get a sense of the different results you can get:

We used deli paper to make painted papers on a gelli plate. We then wrote down some thoughts about freedom on those papers, which gives them an extra measure of meaning to our page. By journaling on the papers we used to make our flowers, by using our favorite colors and materials, and by using our own image in our page, we’ve explored freedom, both in relation to habits and relationships, and even in relation to our views of ourselves.

Action Steps

  • Try using some modeling paste with a stencil. Don’t have modeling paste? A thick layer of gesso can work as a substitute.
  • Allow yourself to work with ALL your favorite colors without worrying about their popularity or whether they’re harmonious. It will be a wonderful cacophony of glorious YOU!
    There are some great YouTube tutorials on other gelli plate techniques, including this one doing magazine image transfers.
  • Plus a guest artist, Kellee from Color Crush Creative, shared a video with beautiful gelli print pages during our Season of Ubuntu. See if you can incorporate some of these techniques into a journal page.
  • Find images or symbols that speak to you of freedom and put them in places they’ll inspire you, such as your bathroom mirror, your closet, your car, etc.

This is my last tutorial as part of the 2018 Creative Team. I’d like to thank you and the whole Get Messy family for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful community. I’ve grown so much, expanded my creativity, grown in confidence, and made some fantabulous friends. Let’s stay connected!! Much love, TC


TC lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her favorite part of art journaling is following a feeling or idea and seeing where it leads on a page.


  1. Christina Cloud

    I love that you did a tutorial that gives me a reason to use my new gelli printing haul! I’m going to miss seeing you here as part of the get messy team!

  2. TC Larson

    Use that gelli plate haul! I’ll miss being part of the Creative Team but I’ll still be around as Get Messy member ’cause I love it so! If you end up making something inspired by this tutorial, tag me so I can see your personal spin on things (that’s one of my most favorite things). Mwah!

  3. Debbie Bamberger

    I’m so happy with how my page turned out, TC! I will post it once it’s dry. I love your style and I love your voice.

    • TC Larson

      I saw your page on IG and (no surprise) I LOVED it. Thank you for trying out the tutorial and for your kind words. It’s been a fabulous year.

  4. Sasha Zinevych

    When all these cool tutorials come out, I regret not having a gelli plate! :))