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Block Printing Supplies – Ink Roller (Brayer)
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Block Printing Supplies – Ink Roller (Brayer)


Roller or Brayer

What is it and what is it for?

A brayer (or roller) is a hand-tool used historically in printmaking to spread ink.

In the late nineteenth century, the term “brayer” was first applied to a small hand-roller, which was used for spreading ink on the inking table, and for applying it to the plates. Such small rollers were sold as “brayers” from at least 1912 but later in the century, the term was applied to hand-rollers of all sorts and sizes.

First brayers were generally made of wood and then, they were made in other materials such as rubber, sponge, acrylic, polyurethane or leather. Usually smaller rollers have an all-metal support, while larger ones may have two handles to allow for two-handed use (to allow better control or to apply additional pressure).

The printer uses a tool to lay out a little bit of ink on a smooth inking plate, originally made of polished metal or stone, and then the ink is rubbed with the brayer until the area is smooth enough. In contemporary printmaking, commercially available inks are often smooth and soft enough so they can be used in more fragile inking plates such as glass sheets.

The roller is passed systematically across the surface to produce an even layer of ink and then applied to the block, stone or plate. The ink has to be evenly transferred to the raised or receptive areas before the next stage, the printing.

Rubber rollers are primarily used for relief printing, leather rollers are used almost exclusively in lithography and sponge rollers are used only for paint, scrapbooking and other craft applications.


So… Are rollers all the same?

Hell No! In fact, there are several options, from beginner to professional.

Here is a list of different Brayers and Rollers with their main characteristics and different types of use.

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Educational Hard Rubber Brayer

Ideal for classroom projects such as block printing, laminating, stenciling… They are strong and durable enough for long-term use.

Essdee Deluxe Soft Artists’ Rubber Brayer

Professional brayer with a hand ground to produce a fully concentric rolling surface, enabling smooth ink application. Excellent choice for block printing.

Holbein Super Soft Brayer

Quality brayer that meets the demands of all professional etching artists. Super soft rubber, durable and long lasting, with a wood handle as a finishing touch.

Inovart Pro-Roller Brayer

Ergonomic (soft-grip handle with finger grips), lightweight and durable. The all-aluminum carriage which eliminates mess, as the stand does not allow the roller to rest on any surface.

Inovart Snap-Out Brayer Sets

Latex-free synthetic rubber, that snaps out for easy cleaning or replacement. Sets with two rollers, one soft and one hard. Handle made of durable plastic with a comfort grip.

Inovart Soft Rubber Brayer

Economical, long-lasting soft rubber brayer made of latex-free material. Also snaps out for quick and easy cleanup or replacement.

Speedball Deluxe Acrylic Brayer

Ideal for projects where gluing is required since neither rubber cement nor wax will stick on it.

Speedball Hard Rubber Brayers

Hard synthetic rubber roller ideal for light carving or gluing applications, excellent for rolling down print surfaces.

Speedball Pop-In Brayer Kit

The convenience of having 4 brayers in one. Handle accepts Soft Rubber, Hard Rubber, Acrylic, and Foam. All replaceable.

Speedball Soft Rubber Brayers

Smooth, soft rollers with sturdy metal core and strong plastic handle.

Testrite Hard Rubber Brayer

All-purpose brayer for scholastic printmaking. It has a one-piece, plated metal handle.

If you are in Europe, see what Jackson’s Art Supplies have to offer! 😉

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  • Gajraj Chavan March 19, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Please send me details and price list of rollers, papers, cutting tools

    • TOP Team March 19, 2018 at 7:48 pm

      We are not a store, however we provide direct links to online stores that sell the materials. Take a look at the different articles in the blog, if you do not find what you want, send us an email to with the description of what you need and we will be happy to help you. 😉

  • LizGlass May 2, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    Nice list of brayers, but most cannot be found in France…or are extremely expensive!

    • TOP Team May 3, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Probably there are for sale in specialty stores.
      You have to compare and see whether or not you make the order online.
      It can be an expensive tool (depending on the quality) but it is a good investment and essential in any workshop. 😉

  • Hanuman Kambli. June 29, 2018 at 4:45 am

    Your products,is it available in India? Who is your Suplyer? Pls.send details.

    • TOP Team June 29, 2018 at 10:13 am

      Hi Hanuman.
      We do not sell anything, we just direct our readers to online stores where they can find the products.
      We leave here the link to a store in India where you can find what you need.

  • Giovanna Lozano March 19, 2019 at 2:17 am

    There are german brayers, made of rubber, specifically for block printing, and some are very thin, I used one of those, and I like them.

    • TOP Team March 19, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks for your visit and comment! 😉


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