Extreme Printing: the Steamroller edition

Last weekend, most of the Sesame Letterpress team were busy at the wonderful Dumbo Arts Festival. Meanwhile, I was over on the west coast, attending "Roadworks", a printing festival at the San Francisco Center for the Book. We love organizations that promote artforms such as letterpress printing, foil printing and bookbinding and the SFCB is no exception. It's a wonderful space and their open weekend was a lot of fun. The highlight was the very performative steamroller printmaking! And if that sounds complicated, here's a step-by-step, photographic explanation!...


First of all, a piece of board is placed on the road. On top of this is the inked plate, facing upwards. The piece of paper that will receive the impression is then placed very carefully over the plate and this is followed by a few layers of blankets and other protective coverings. Everything has to be lined up very precisely.

Step 2

With a toot of the horn, the steamroller slowly moves forwards, following the guides that are marked on the ground and on the protective blanket. The steamroller went over the plate once, then backed up, then rolled over it a second time.

Step 3

We all held our breath for the big reveal! The paper had to be removed really gently and carefully to ensure that the ink didn't smudge. I also loved the fact that at the end, the artist held up his work and everyone who had watched the event gave him a round of applause!

Step 4

Finally, here's a photo of the table with all the finished prints displayed. They came out really beautifully!

- Jana