Roll Baby Roll

This past weekend SCC’s art club dominated the Shoreline Arts Festival with a big, big idea: steamroller printmaking. I explained the basis of the idea here and a bit more about my design here. So, after carving for 18+ hours we were all set to do our test run. I think it went well…mostly. We started talking about this idea last quarter, so it seemed like a forever had passed when our big day arrived. We’d practiced, refined and honed our plan as best we could.

Cover & Protect

This apron got quite a few compliments. It was gifted to me by Matt’s Grandma, Jo Shay this past Christmas. She used it some 30 odd years for making all sorts of crafts and I’m so honored to wear it! Thanks Grandma!

Grandma's Apron


Our paper was cut with only a 1 inch leeway on any side, so the paper placers (me!) had to be precise. Registration is the bane of the printmaker’s existence, but it’s so very important most especially when resources are scarce and/or costly. We taped off our general area and then used Sharpies and L Squares to draw perfect corners for the papers to fit into.


My professor, Natalie, Nicolette and Gloria were the inkers. Their job was to carefully and completely cover the mdf boards in ink. These ladies had very strong attention to detail. Doing this project outdoors meant that dust and debris in the ink was inevitable, but looking at our prints, you could hardly tell thanks to these three.

Muscle Up

The heavy lifters, Rachel and Daniel were charged with lifting the fully inked plates and setting them into our taped out lines. They had to be mindful of their fingers or else their fingerprints would show in the final print. By the end of the day they were covered in ink. Poor things.

Fabric/Paper Placing

Paper People

Dale, Deanna, Corinne and I were in charge of pulling out the correct sized paper without getting the rest blown away or wet and place the paper precisely. We then covered the paper in blankets and then a giant slab of plywood to protect our plates from the steamroller and evenly distribute the pressure. Then we all had to stand on the plates to keep them from shifting.

Roll baby Roll


Carmen, our steamroller driver, is exactly the type of person you want to work on anything with. She’s always thinking, always trying her hardest and is always a badass. After the first few passes we discovered some inconsistencies. Carmen figured driving over the larger plates twice (once toward each corner) would fix the problem and did! No toes were squished, either. So that’s good.

Paper Removal

The paper placers lift the giant plywood and push em toward the waiting arms of the heavy lifters so that we can go on to carefully peel back the paper. We determined that they were best peeled from one side to the other instead of meeting in the middle, but the other person still had to have their hands on the edges because the wind would just pick up and threaten our perfect prints. We hung several prints on our makeshift clothesline, but with the fierce wind, occasional rain and limited space, a lot of the prints had to be run into the building. We dodged traffic and pedestrians to get inside, but it was great advertising.


And Voila!


Once people saw the results of our prints they were excited to try it! We had  a little workshop set up where anyone interested could carve a tiny linoleum block of their own. Unfortunately the wind and rain destroyed a lot of them and I got no pictures. Womp, womp. Anyway, they had fun. And I did, too. I’m so thankful to Natalie and Shoreline’s art club for the opportunity to be a part of something so fundamentally awesome. Here’s the print of the plate Natalie carved with her student models.


Our prints will be for sale at the Wallcott’s Decor & More very soon. I’ll keep you posted!

A year ago I had no idea I’d be adding steamroller printmaking to my portfolio, but that’s what so amazing about the future: it’s a surprise.




*images by Matt Wray with the exception of the very last one, I borrowed that one from FB.

Author: Brianna Wray

I'm an artist in Seattle just living the dream.

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