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Everything is Better With Steamroller: Print Matters' Annual DIY Printmaking Fair

Magic happens when ink and paper are smushed underneath a steamroller.

Typically, a printing press can deal with a carved block that’s measured in inches. Once a block or board approaches a foot or feet, forget about traditional printmaking means. “The steamroller acts as a make-shift printing press, as most printing presses cannot accommodate a block as large as the ones our artists are carving,” says Print Matters president Katherine Rhodes Fields, who adds that some artists in Print Matters’ yearly Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints are carving woodblocks that measure three-by-five and three-by-four feet.

Watching the application of two tons of pressure to an oversized woodblock – which can be viewed live and for free from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 24, in the parking lot of Saint Arnold Brewery, 2000 Lyons Avenue – is a blast to witness. This year, more than 50 artists from throughout Texas, such as Leamon Green, Monica Villarreal, Eileen McClellan, and Andis Applewhite, will participate. Some of the prints, which will hang throughout the day at the brewery (there will also be art vendors and food trucks at the print fair) will move over to the Williams Tower, where a juried exhibition is scheduled to take place from June 9 to July 15.

“[The Under Pressure theme] maintains the idea of the pressure of the steamroller makes the image come to fruition when the ink and paper connect under the weight of the machine,” says Fields. “I think, conceptually, it’s a great theme for our artists in that phrase ‘under pressure’ takes on a lot of meanings and can make manifest some interesting image making.”

Here are some images, courtesy of Print Matters, of the steamroller in action and the results from the 2015 edition of Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints:

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen