Visual Arts

Steamroller Coming to Saltgrass Printmakers

On Saturday, August 16th, there will be a steamroller at work in the area adjacent to the famous “one-car parking lot” of Saltgrass Printmakers at 2126 S 1000 E. Those rendered anxious by recent destructive trends in the Sugarhouse neighborhood will be relieved to know that no further remodeling, nor even repaving, will be going down. Instead, the Saltgrass community will be engaging in what partner Erik Brunvand characterizes as “some outdoor printmaking shenanigans.” He goes on to stress that far from menacing, the event will be open to the public promises to be both enlightening and therapeutic.

Readers of 15 Bytes will probably know that “printmaking” is a general term that applies to many types of works on paper. Saltgrass has (indoor) facilities for almost all types of printmaking (relief, etching, screen, monoprint, etc.). Relief prints, for example, are made by first carving a “matrix” (typically a block of wood, linoleum, or sintra) with the design to be printed. Once the image is carved into the matrix, the artist applies ink to the top surface (no ink goes into the carved-away portion of the matrix). Once the matrix is inked, the artist carefully puts a piece of paper on the top of that matrix, then runs the paper and matrix through a press so that under pressure the image is pressed into the paper. These fundamental principles will apply on August 16th, as well, up to the point where the artist turns to the press.

What was hitherto safe and civilized will change dramatically when the steamroller gets involved. For this special one-day event the precision relief press will be replaced with a two-ton steamroller. Participating artists will carve their images into large plywood matrices. These will be inked up outside in the parking lot. Once these are ready to go, the crew will put a large sheet of paper on top of the matrix, layer with old blankets, and drive over the whole thing with the steamroller to make the print.

On behalf of Saltgrass, Brunvand invites everyone to participate, either as an artist or as a spectator. It should be big, heavy fun. The steamrolling—um, er—printing will start at noon on Saturday, August 16th. Those who only want to observe are equally welcome to join in. Spectators, cheerleaders, and gawkers are welcome.

If you’d like to make a print, here are the specs. The steamroller will be around 34″ wide, and there will be a supply of 30″ x 44″ printmaking paper. So, use that as a guide for your matrix. Use ½ or ¾ inch plywood and carve your image keeping that paper size in mind. Plates should ideally be ¼” deep in open areas and artists shouldn’t expect the steamroller to capture too much fine detail. Saltgrass will provide the paper, black ink, and, of course, the steamroller! You provide the plate and the image.

For further details please contact Erik Brunvand at, or call Saltgrass Printmakers at 467.1080. You can find more information about Saltgrass at Saltgrass is located at 2126 S. 1000 E. in Sugarhouse (Salt Lake City). 

Categories: Visual Arts

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