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A variety of brayers

A brayer is a hand roller used in printmaking techniques to spread ink in the process of offsetting an image from a plate to paper.


They can be made of composition rubber, rubber, sponge, acrylic, polyurethane or leather. They are mounted on a rod or pins, attached to a wooden handle somewhat shaped to accommodate the hand. Others have an all-metal support, while larger brayers have a double handle to apply maximum pressure.


The printer uses a spatula to lay out an ink "pad" usually on glass, but as long as the preparation surface is tight and smooth, there are acceptable alternatives. When the ink is clear of debris and lumps, it is ready for the brayer which is rolled systematically across the pad to produce an even layer of ink on the roller. The brayer is then applied to the block so that the ink is evenly transferred to the raised areas before the next stage of pressing paper onto the block or plate.


Rubber brayers come in varieties of hardness and are primarily used for relief printing. Leather rollers are only used in lithography. Sponge rollers are used only for paint, scrapbooking and other craft applications.

See also[edit]


  • Ross, John; Clare Romano (1991). The Complete Printmaker. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-927372-2.