If you are going to roller print with organic materials, or fabrics,
like lace, it won’t hurt your mill’s rollers. Brass, copper, silver
or gold won’t hurt them either. You shouldn’t need to use a
"sandwich" of brass or copper between these materials and your
rollers. Where I would definately use the “sandwich” of brass or
copper sheet is when you are rolling steel wire or screen through
your mill. These harder materials have the ability to scar your
rollers, so I would not print with them touching your rollers
directly. I have also seen references to rolling sheets of steel
with patterns on them, through the rolling mill, to print non-ferrous
metals, but you couldn’t get me to do that with any of my mills. I
have also rolled coarse grit sandpaper (with copper sheets
surrounding it and my silver sheet) through my mills with no
problem, but I am careful to wipe up any loose sanding grit from my
rollers afterwards. Metalliferous in NYC has a terrific selection of
patterned brass sheet, whch leaves deep impressions on sheet silver
or gold. It also seems to hold up well for multiple rolls through the
mill, without loss of detail. Roller printing is all about
experimentation, and you should just play withall kinds of materials
to see what works best for you. Just make sure you are mindful of
what might have the capacity to damage your rollers, and avoid those.
Make sure your material to be roller printed has been freshly
annealed, so it is at its softest, to make the best impression.
As far as lubricating your rollers, just about anything will work,
from sewing machine oil to olive oil. I use a spray lube from the
hardware store which has a rust preventative in it. However, I would
NOT recommend WD40, as it is not recommended for long term
lubrication on steel.
I would oil up those rollers at the end of the day, and COVER your
mill when you are not using it.
Jay Whaley Whaley Studios