Gel Press - First Impressions, Failures, and a Success?

Ever buy a product you see someone use and think "oh this will be EASY!" and then you get it and it's all "um...why doesn't this work?"

That would be the Gel Press for me. A few days ago, I saw a cool video on the YouTube channel Scrapbooking Made Simple on using a Gel Press with inks, stamps, embossing folders and stencils. Generally this product is used with paint but the woman in the video showed how you could totally use it with stamping inks you own already. I never heard of one of these before, but after watching the video I thought it looked so cool I had to try it. I ordered the 6x6 size Gel Press on Amazon, because I have gift cards and that's where I like to shop when possible (gotta love Prime shipping), though it does come in other sizes.

It arrived yesterday and so today I sat down, ready to make an epic background with stars that looked kind of like the emboss resist technique I'd recently tried. Here's how it looked in the package and when I took it out and took the clear plastic off both sides. It's super squishy and flexible.

The press picks up every piece of lint and animal hair you have around you, so be prepared for that (and keep reading to see why). It has a good weight to it.

So first, I set about using Ranger Distress Inks to make a galaxy background with a Star Splatter stamp from Your Next Stamp. I put my Gel Press on top of a sheet of white card stock so I could see what I was doing.

I pressed around the Distress Ink Cubes in no particular pattern.

I gently rolled my ink brayer around the Gel Press as I'd seen in the video.

Then I pressed my stamp into the Gel Press, again, as I'd seen in the video.

I removed the stamp and pressed my card stock on top.

Aaaaaand...disaster. What an ugly, pebbly mess.

Okie dokie. So Distress Inks aren't working (though I have seen these used when Googling around so I need to experiment some more, probably). Let's move on to dye based inks. Got out my Memento teardrop inks and tried again.

NOPE. Still super pebbly and I obviously mixed up the colors way too much.

On to hybrid inks.

This time I did better with the colors not blending but still looks too pebbly. I don't like it. I'm unhappy. Grrrr.

Finally, I tried pigment inks. I've had one of those pigment ink sets forever, it's old, and I don't generally like pigment inks because they take forever to dry, but hey, let's try it.

Aha! Now we're getting somewhere. No more pebbles, but EWWWW, all the little hairs from my baby wipe stuck to the Gel Press (because it attracts lint and fuzz and, ehem, cat hair, like it's nobody's business).

So I took a lint roller and cleaned off my Gel Press (that worked beautifully, by the way). And then I thought to myself, ok, I've got it. Pigment inks! Let's try again with a stamp. So I took out a different one, it's by Hero Arts, called Tiny Star Background.


I FINALLY got a result I'd been looking for. The pigment inks don't leave the little pebbly texture, they blend pretty well, and the stamp took the ink from the Gel Press beautifully.

I chopped the sheet down into a card sized background and will be using it in a card soon!

The pigment inks did stain my Gel Press while the other inks did not, but it does wipe off pretty clean so I don't think it'll interfere with any future projects, and that was discussed in that YouTube video as well, about staining.

I definitely need to watch more videos about this Gel Press, and practice, practice, practice, but I do think this is a very cool tool to have, and it's pretty inexpensive. Stay tuned!

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