My new Japanese print rollers are wonderful, the rubber surface is smooth as silk, the ink picks up evenly and then distributes across the lino uniformly and I couldn’t be happier with their performance.
However, they have one tiny glitch. Many rollers, but not all by any means, have the ability to be rested on a table top without the rubber roller part touching the surface. In other words, they have a built-in stand of some sort.
As you can see above there are few different types of stand. The leather lithography rollers come with their own separate wooden base to hold their rolling-pin shape. Most of the others have the handlebar sitting above the roller so it can be turned on its back when resting and the roller will be raised. The red roller, top right, has little arms either side. In the picture it is in rest mode and when printing it is turned over so the small prongs face upwards and won’t scratch the print plate (usually glass). I think this is how my rollers should be.
I bought my rollers from 2 different suppliers in 2 different parts of the country. They are manufactured by the same Japanese company but were probably sent to Australia in different shipments. So I don’t think there has been a mistake in the production, I think there is a design fault.
From the picture it is easy to see that only one single prong was supplied, so I’m not able to place one on either side of the roller, making small arms, as per the red sample above. The only place it can go is where the handle attaches to the metal handlebar. This causes the roller, in rest mode, to sit on the surface and the wooden handle to remain raised. Even were the roller not heavier than the handle it still wouldn’t sit up because it would rock from side to side with one edge always on the table. Bizarre.
When I showed my rollers to Tony (printmaker professional) he was amazed at the stupidity of the design for an item that was so expensive. So, what to do? I don’t want them resting on the glass between rolling each print. They stick a bit and I get a line across them which is hard to remove so it doesn’t come through on the next print pass. So you can imagine my delight when my husband gave me my Easter present, and all his own design:
This little wooden ‘bridge’ has circular holes drilled in it so that the roller handles will drop through to the table. The height of the structure is sufficient that it holds the rollers steady, without the possibility of them toppling, but there is still enough of the handle visible for me to get a good hold when lifting them out. If I’m only working in a single colour I can put the other rollers aside, giving me even easier access. But that’s not all ……
If I attach ‘L’ brackets to the wall or inside a cupboard door I can slide the stand on to them for storage when it is not being used. The rollers can stay in place, as they will drop further through, and they won’t be damaged by resting on the rubber for extended periods. I can also cover them, keeping them clean and away from direct sunlight which will degrade the rubber over time.