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A variety of brayers

A brayer is a hand roller used in printmaking techniques to spread ink evenly onto the image surface prior to making a print.


They can be made of composition, vulcanized rubber, sponge, acrylic, polyurethane or leather. They are formed around a shaft or core and attached to a wooden handle. Others have an all-metal support, while larger brayers may have two handles for applying additional pressure.


The printer uses a ink knife to lay out an ink "pad" on a smooth inking plate, often glass. When the ink is free 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 forme, block, stone or plate so that the ink is evenly transferred to the raised or receptive areas before the next stage of transferring the ink, by pressure, to the printing surface or offset substrate.


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.