Getting to Know Gelatos

I have a bit of a confession to make.  I ordered the Illustrated Faith devotional kit, “Make It Count” because I thought the prompts would give me the chance to learn to use my gelatos.  I really wasn’t prepared for God to speak to me so intimately through the devotional.  I’ll still share some ideas on using gelatos, but my prayer is that the verses selected by Maggie Massey will touch your heart as they have touched mine.


What they are:  Pigment in a tube

Why they are great for Bible Journaling:  They provide bright, fun color and don’t bleed.  They can be used wet or dry.  They play nicely with other art supplies.  They are remarkably versatile.

Page prep needed:  None for most applications, but some ideas work better with gesso.

Ideas:  Background color for stamps or writing.  Great to use with stencils.

The most frequently asked question about gelatos seems to be:  Whether you can write over them or whether its best to write first.  Right after you lay the color down, the gelatos can leave a waxy residue on your pen (which just scribbles off).  That being said, once the color has rested for awhile (ten or fifteen minutes), I’ve used micron pens and had no troubles.  You can also write first and then put the color over the ink.  The only drawback is the color has to be smudged on, so you want to make sure you pen ink is good and dry so that it doesn’t smugde, too.  And if you plan to use water with the gelatos, you have to make sure that your pen ink is permanent, not water-activated.

Another question that comes up is whether or not you have to seal the gelatos.  When you are working with gelatos, flakes of gelatos tend to go in unexpected places and leave little streaks, but once the gelatos have rested, the pigment stops moving around.  If you have any concerns, just place a sheet of paper between your Bible pages.  You’ll find that the color doesn’t move from one page to the other.

I feel like I learned a lot about myself from learning to use gelatos, too!  First, I am not all that intuitive about art supplies as my first attempt to make a color chart with gelatos demonstrates, and second, as an artist I kind of prefer art supplies that are more precise.  I’m not sure that I’m the best person to demonstrate gelatos for Bible journaling, but there’s lots of ideas below.  Gelatos can be used for just about any way you would like to add color.  If you add water they become water colors.  If you mix them with white gesso, they become opaque paint.  You can stamp with them, color with them, blend them.  But they are not always my first choice for all these applications.  My favorite way to use them in my Bible is definitely as color rubbed on dry over stencils with a make-up sponge.


My second attempt went much better.  Typically when you lay down the color, you will want to smooth it out afterwards with your fingers or a make-up sponge…


I LOVE looking at fun, messy art, and I tend to make big messes when I create, but the art I make is more constrained.  So the most natural way for me to use gelatos is to apply them over a stencil with a make-up brush.  This way the color goes where I expect it to go!

The first prompt was to reflect on the great things God has done for me personally and to think about how to respond.  I first wrote everything out in pencil, then in micron pen.  I stamped the words “cheerfully serve” and “share love”.  Then I put color down on a plate and used a make-up sponge to pick up the color and apply it over a hand-cut stencil to the page.

great things

The final result gave some shape and color to the stamped images…


Up next is a ridiculously simple idea.  The gold gelato makes a great tool for adding a distressed look to the edge of the paper.  In this passage I returned to Colossians, a passage I’ve visited twice before.  I was grateful because the verses Colossians 3:23-24 have always guided me in my career, so I simply wrote them down and put my standard work prayer on the back.  I’m not sure why this passage has become a place I’ve poured out prayers over just about every aspect of my life, blogging, Bible journaling, motherhood, and work.  Some passages, I just keep revisiting.  I love tip-ins!!!

work heartily

The next prompt encouraged me to be more adventuresome.  The suggested verse was 1 Corinthians 15:58 (“God loves a cheerful giver.”), but as I reflected on the whole passage, the words that spoke to me most was the incredible promise that we can give freely, knowing that we are sustained by God’s grace:  “sufficient in all things at all times”.  One super-fun thing about gelatos is that they drip when wet.  This technique works best with gesso on the page, so I first prepped the margins with gesso.  Then I figured out where I wanted the stamps to go and used masking tape to make off areas where I did not want drips.  Then I laid down some color with the gelatos and held my Bible upright as I spritzed it with water until the color dripped.

covered in grace

Here’s how the final picture turned out…(for the pink bunny I mixed shaved gelatos with gesso.)


The next invitation took me to Deuteronomy 13:4.  As I read this passage, I was struck by the instructions that we are to follow God’s ways regardless of the culture around us.  This seemed like a good place to use my stamp “God has not called you to fit in.”  I practiced stamping with the gelatos, but had trouble getting consistent results.  Ultimately, I just decided to use the gelatos as background color for a black stamp…


The final result…


For then next invitation, I tried out a simple stencil.  I first put down a layer of “banana” and then just colored the edges of the plastic stencil with the “blood orange” gelato and then used a make-up sponge to push the color into the area where I wanted it to go.  I love the promise that whatever we do for the Lord, we can be assured that our work is not in vain.  This seemed to be the perfect place to use the “Make it count” stamp that came with the devotional.

I came to another passage that would require a tip-in.  One fun thing about gelatos is that they show up well even against dark paper, so I simply stenciled the verse onto the page.  I found that I had to clean the stencil often with a wet wipe to avoid getting little flecks of metallic green gelato everywhere.


I got a little braver and went for more of an art-journal-type look, just using stencils to layer the colors.  As I worked on this page, I was reminded of the importance of doing things with a whole heart, not just going through the motions, but putting my whole self, heart and mind into what I do.


For this next technique, you have to put gesso down on the page first.  You first color the area with the gelato.  Then use a wetwipe over a stencil to remove the color…

blessed to give

The final page…


The next prompt took me to 1 Peter.  I love the whole passage and decided to simply write it out on a tip-in.  What I most love is most is that promise that whoever or whatever we are called by God to serve, we do so with the strength of God.  I just find this comforting, especially when it feels so often that life and the to do list requires a heroic response.

One technique I’ve seen demonstrated with gelatos is to shave some of the stick and mix it with water to create an ink spray.  I don’t think this would work too well on the Bible pages; it’s just too wet of a process.  There are better ways to get the sprayed effect in the Bible, but I was happy with how this tip-in turned out…



I think this might be my favorite page.  I just used the cherry red gelato and painted over the color with a little water.  (The lettering is not a stamp.  I scanned a picture included in the devotional, reduced it to size, and traced it.)


This next verse was formative for me in my life as a Christian.  There are times when serving does rock, when it feels wonderful to be in the right place at the right time for others.  And then there are times, where it is downright hard, and you still have to be willing to say, “I love you Jesus!”  For me this verse speaks about a willingness to surrender my life, to follow Jesus, even when it means the path of the cross.  On this page, I put gesso down first and used water to blend the gelatos rather than my finger.


This page came together quickly.  I painted gesso onto the margins.  Then, I simply traced the tracing template in the devotional and added gelatos as background color.


This next passage took me back to the very first invitation in the devotional:  to consider all the great things God has done to me.  This verse brought me to my knees.  (I just used gelatos over a lettering stencil)…


The next teaching of Jesus felt like a brand new teaching to me.  I guess I’m from the school of thought that when it comes to charity, you should not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing.  And that whatever good I may do is the Holy Spirit working through me to do good works prepared in advance by God.  But I don’t think Jesus is necessarily talking about an even exchange for material goods.  As I worked on this passage, I reflected on all the love, forgiveness, encouragement, and appreciation that others have shared with me and was able to see that what’s easiest for me to share (THANKS TO THE GRACE OF GOD!!!) does come full circle.

Speaking of coming full circle.  For this last passage, I once again used a handcut stencil.  I think this still is my favorite way to use gelatos.  I photographed my measuring cup, shrunk it to size, printed it on cardstock, and cut it out.  And as much fun as I’ve had with gelatos over the past couple of weeks, I was really craving my microns and colored pencils–really, nice sharp colored, pencils, too!!!


The final page….


If you happen to have gelatos, I hope you are encouraged to try out some new ways of using them.  And I pray that you may know and always grow in your appreciation for God’s all-sufficient grace.





12 thoughts on “Getting to Know Gelatos

  1. Thank you for this tutorial. I have Gelatos but have been “afraid” to even try them out. This has helped me have the courage to try something new. The connection between the scriptures and your art is spot on, too. Great job.

  2. Thank you so much for the great techniques and sharing your heart too. I love journaling and art as a combo and had not ventured into gelatos in my Bible….new fun ahead thanks to you!

  3. Pingback: A Few Thoughts on Blogging | Journaling the Bible

  4. Hi there just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

  5. This has been the best gelato post I’ve ever read! Also, I finally understand how to use those Bible journaling sets I’ve seen around after reading your post. Thank you for sharing!

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