Hey there, fellow artists and crafters! Have you ever tried using gel medium in your mixed-media projects? If not, you're missing out on a world of possibilities. Gel medium is a versatile medium that can be used for a variety of techniques, including transferring images, creating texture, and even painting. So let's dive in and learn how to use gel medium like a pro!
First things first, what exactly is gel medium? Gel medium is a type of binder that is commonly used in painting and mixed-media projects. It comes in a variety of consistencies, from thin and watery (soft) to thick and gooey (heavy). Gel medium is milky when wet and clear when dry, making it perfect for layering.
Now that we know what gel medium is, let's talk about some of the ways you can use it in your mixed-media projects and art journals.
First of all, gel medium is the perfect glue.
Choose soft body gel medium for paper glueing or heavy body for adhering larger elements such as buttons, cogs etc. For paper spread the gel medium with a brush or a glue spreader so the layer is thin, place your paper and go over it with a clean credit card to smooth out the creases and get rid of the air bubbles. And there's a secret tip that will help you glue down larger pieces of paper. Watch my video to find out all about it.
For larger elements, put a splodge of gel medium down on your substrate and place the element on top. Now you'll have to give it a few hours to dry, but once it's all clear your element will there for good.
One of the most popular techniques to use gel medium is image transfer. To do this, you'll need a laser-printed image (inkjet won't work), gel medium, and a surface to transfer the image onto. Apply a thick layer of gel medium to the surface, then place the image face down onto the gel medium. Smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles, then let it dry overnight. Once it's dry, use a damp cloth to gently rub away the paper, revealing the transferred image underneath.
Artwork by Kasia Avery. The face on the right page is gel medium image transfer.
Another way to use gel medium is to create texture. You can mix in a variety of materials such as sand, sawdust, or even beads, to give your piece a unique and tactile quality. Apply a thick layer of gel medium to your surface, then sprinkle on your chosen material. Let it dry completely, then paint over it with acrylic paint or other mediums.
You could also try stamping in semi-wet gel medium to create amazing texture. Apply a thick layer of heavy gel medium and let its surface dry. Once it's not sticky anymore but still flexible, grab a rubber stamp (or even better, carve your own!) or a piece of bubble wrap and press it down onto the semi-dry layer of gel. Lift it up and now let it dry completely. This is called debossing and it will give you very interesting texture. Once it's dry you can paint over it with acrylics.
Gel medium + stencils + sprays
Gel medium resist is also great! Place a stencil of your choice on paper or a canvas/mdf/plywood board and go over it with an old credit card dipped in thin or thick gel medium. Let it dry completely. Then go in with a wash of watercolour or an ink spray and see how the gel resists the colour. You could also wipe the surface gently with a paper towel to reveal a more contrasting result.
But wait, there's more! Gel medium can also be used as a painting medium. Mix it with acrylic paint to extend the paint and create a more transparent effect. You can also use it as a glazing medium to create a glossy, glass-like finish.
Now that you know some of the ways you can use gel medium, let's talk about some tips and tricks for using it effectively. One important thing to remember is that gel medium dries quickly, so work in small sections to avoid it drying out before you're finished. Also, be sure to clean your tools (brushes, palette knives, stencils, stamps etc.) with water immediately after use to prevent the gel medium from drying on them. Be sure to also keep the rim of your jar clean. My secret tip is to apply a little vaseline on the rim of the tub to prevent it from sticking together.
In conclusion, gel medium is a versatile and fun medium to use in your mixed-media projects. Whether you're transferring images, creating texture, or painting, gel medium can add a unique and dynamic element to your art. So go ahead and give it a try – who knows, you might just discover a new favourite medium!