My lovely new Rollaco press

A very exciting day last Sunday as I became the proud owner of my long awaited printing press. It is a beautiful etching press made by John Pears of Rollaco Presses.


John is retired engineer who makes a small number of expertly engineered presses each year. He supplies many schools and colleges as well as professional print studios. His website is well worth a visit if you are considering buying a press – especially his no nonsense guide as to what to look for in a press.

I spent a long time researching what type of press to get and although I work in linocut at the moment, the Rollaco presses are equally suitable for both relief and intaglio printing. In fact they can also be adapted for letterpress work – something I will be doing in the future.

I must admit I was a little apprehensive before I used it for the first time and I expected to have to fiddle around a lot before I got satisfactory results. I need not have worried. It has given me great results, literally from the very first print I took.

I bought a set of wool felts to use however I thought that they would be too soft for the linocuts and cause the paper to push into the plate too much – picking up any unwanted ink that might be lurking around the edges of the cut areas of the plate. I had read on the printmaking forums about using a rubber lithographer’s printing blanket in place of the felts as it has just the right amount of ‘give’. Thanks to a friendly and generous local printing supplies company I was given a rubber printers blanket and it works a treat with the press. You can see the blue rubber side in the picture below.


13 thoughts on “My lovely new Rollaco press

  1. Hi, I have been offered an antique etching press in full working order. I have a tiny studio in which I currently print all my linocut prints using the back of a spoon or a clean rubber roller. Does a press significantly save time? I want to be confident of this before o pay hundreds of pounds to transport it, as it will occupy half my studio! Your opinion would be greatly appreciated. From a fellow printmaker and dog lover (love your typographic prints by the way!)

    • Hi Lisa… thanks for your comments and question… the answer, as ever with printmaking, is not completely straightforward but for me, yes, the press has saved me time and made my life easier but that is mainly because 1. my prints are quite big (around A3) and 2. because I use quite thick printmaking paper so it took quite a lot of ‘elbow grease’ with a baren/spoon… so now I get a better impression for much less effort.. but if you are primarily printing smaller works on thin japanese papers, where ink transfer is a bit easier, then it might not be worth it for you and it would just be in the way. Hope this helps a bit.

    • hi kristin… thanks for your comments… i dont know if the blankets come in different thicknesses or not… mine is only about 2mm and i just use it the same way as a normal blanket, laying it over the paper and plate and under the roller… blue rubber side down

  2. I am looking into buying an etching press and wondered what model yours is. It’s looks great and I am finding it a headache working out which one to get. I also like the rubber blanket idea and wondered where you can get it from.

    Thanks Philippa

    • hi phillipa… thanks for your comments… i am very happy with mine … it is the rollaco kudos 45cm… i also got a headache researching all the different ones… its not an easy decision especially when they arent cheap! i went to a local printing supplies shop for the rubber blanket… they had some offcuts lying around so i was lucky to get it for free… i works great for my needs but if you are doing traditional etching then the felt blankets should be fine too… good luck with your search

  3. Hi, I am just thinking of buying the exact same press and your comments have helped me decide. I have been using a small bench top etching press for years, printing A3 size woodblocks and although the rubber blanket sounds great, for anyone who can’t get hold of one, thick blotting paper combined with a thin etching blanket does the trick.


  4. Do you know if your rubber blanket off cut has a grain or certain way it should be cut and rolled through the press. I picked up some off cuts and the lines on the back of the blanket run the length of the press. Not sure if it matters. Hope that makes sense. Thanks

    • Hi Ally… My rubber blankets are blue rubber on one side (i use this side face down on the paper) and woven material on the other side (this is uppermost on the press)… the woven side does have some lines printed on it but in my opinion it wouldn’t matter which way they were orientated when using the blanket on the press… hope this helps… best wishes, debbie

  5. Hi Debbie, I’m doing some research on printing presses as I’m looking to buy one for my wife. You’ve had the Rollaco press for a few years now, what are your thoughts on it? Was it a good buy? Would you have chosen another make if you had the chance to change your mind? Thanks, Gareth

    • Hi Gareth… I would definitely recommend it… it has been excellent and trouble free… and even today i dont think there’s a better engineered press for the same money out there … debbie

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