When is a Monoprint Not a Monoprint?

Gelli Print Monotype

I’ll bet I know an art word that most stampers (including myself) have been using incorrectly for years. In fact, just as late as the most recent eArticle, I used the term “monoprint” to describe a technique that involves scribbling watercolor crayons onto a craft sheet, wetting them and pressing paper onto the color to transfer the design to paper. But today I learned that isn’t really a monoprint! It’s actually a monotype. Do you know the difference?

Yesterday I told you that I really like learning something new when I delve into a new article topic. Researching Gelli Plates this week, I noticed that while most folks refer to the prints created with a Gelli Plate as monoprints, they are sometimes alternatively referred to as monotypes. What is the difference? I did some digging to find out.

It turns out that a monoprint is actually created using a block with permanent lines or shapes. Each print created from the block will have those same lines or shapes but because the block is inked differently each time, each print is unique, creating a monoprint (meaning “one print”.) Examples are metal etchings, carved wood blocks or lithographs.

What we stampers typically call a monoprint is actually more correctly called a monotype. A monotype uses a smooth surface with no permanent lines or shapes, typically smooth glass or metal or a gelatin plate. (We stampers sometimes use clear plastic sheets or craft sheets.) The artist applies paint or ink to this surface and creates a print by pressing paper or another surface onto the paint, transferring the color and design to the new surface.

Now the vocabulary police are not going to come after you if you use the word monoprint instead of monotype. Many people and publications use the two terms interchangeably. They are, after all, very similar and techniques used within them overlap. But I thought it was interesting and am glad to know the correct term to use in the future.

So now maybe you learned something new today too!

The Gelli Plate monotype shown above was created with acrylic paints a foam leaf stamp (Chunky Stamps) and a rubber comb. You can learn more about how such monotypes can be created in the upcoming “Gelli Plates & Stamps” eArticle (to be posted 10/20/13.)

Nancie, VSN

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