Each year, San Francisco Center for the Book hosts the Roadworks Steamroller Printing Festival. It's a fun day full of printing and book binding activities with a market place for local print makers to sell their artwork. The highlight of the festival is the steamroller printing. A vintage steamroller rolls over a carefully place linoleum block, paper and layer of blankets to produce amazing prints. It's such a fun and novel way to produce prints.
This year, there was not one steamroller at the festival like previous years, but two. Double the steamroller fun! One steamroller was used to produce the large 3' x 3' prints as per usual, and another was used to print smaller prints to order, four at a time. This meant that there was twice as much steamroller action, something that Mathilde was pretty excited about.
Actually, come to think of it, there weren't two steamrollers at the festival. There were three! Ok, one of them was Mathilde's toy steamroller. It didn't do any printing but it did drive roll over a lot of other things!
The steamroller printing was definitely the highlight, but there was plenty of other printing making fun to be had. This was the first year that Mathilde could be hands on with the print making. With a little help from the friendly festival volunteers Mathilde was able to make a print from cardboard shapes, print a cover for a notebook on a small press, and print a poster on the Vandercook press.
I've always loved the idea of purchasing one of the prints made at the Roadworks Festival, however the 3' x 3' prints are a little large for our apartment. With the addition of the smaller prints printed to order this year I considered purchasing one, however I couldn't decide which one I liked best before they were all sold out. I did buy a few prints from the market though.
A poetry wall was set up along a fence with words clipped to the wiring for festival goers to make poems with. Mathilde's a little young for writing poems but she did take a liking to the word "steamroller" and a pink heart. She was happy to pose for photos with them, but really, she just wanted to take them home!
As much as Mathilde enjoyed seeing the steamrollers, she was a little scared to get too close to them. They are pretty big and noisy so I guess I can't blame her. I was eager to get a photo of her sitting on one of them like last year, however she was not keen to get close enough until right at the end of the day. In fact, I didn't get the photo below of her standing on the steamroller until after it was finished printing and was about to be loaded up onto a truck!
We stayed until the very end of the festival and watched the steam rollers being loaded up onto the truck. They were reversed up a wooden and metal ramp very slowly while the wood made rather scary creaking noises.
Mathilde and I had such a fun time at the Roadworks Festival. We can't wait to go again next year and hopefully Ava and Lola will come along with us next time (they weren't keen to go into the city on such a hot day).
If you're interested in learning letterpress and printing techniques make sure to check out San Francisco Center for the Book here. They offer workshops and classes throughout the year plus studio rental for artists.