Video: Day of the Dead steamroller print creation

ArtOrg Exec. Director Dave Machacek saw my post about art on the walls of local businesses and gave me a heads-up on this 6 minute Google video, created by ArtOrg board member Greg Mattern who works at HDMG, a video post-production house in Eden Prairie.

Click play to watch. 6 minutes.

This video shows the creation of a 104-foot print on October 14, 2006 for Northfield Minnesota’s first Day of the Dead Celebration. Over a dozen Latino artists were assisted by a 20,000-pound, 50-year-old “Buffalo Springfield” steamroller.

In steamroller printing, a relatively recent and infrequent occurrence in the world of visual arts, a design is drawn on a large block of wood (typically a 4’x8′ sheet of particle board or press-board). The design is then carved out using routers, chisels, rotary drills, etc. At the printing site, the wood block is set on sawhorses and inked.

Then, it is laid into a template that has been devised on the ground to hold the block steady and in place while being printed. Next, a sheet of paper is carefully lowered onto the ink wet wood block and a piece of carpet is placed over the paper. As the carpet is stretched tightly in place, the steamroller is very slowly driven over the whole affair, taking care to not to turn the rollers in any way.

The smallest mistake in this process leads to a smudged or creased print. For a 100′ banner you multiple the whole affair by 13 artists and woodblocks and numerous helpers. All designs must be printed in a line and fairly quickly before the ink can dry. And instead of needing a dozen folks to make the process work, you need sixty or more to finally pull the banner off the wood blocks, walk it off the 100′ long template, turn it, and weight it on the ground. A long, hard undertaking, the Northfield Day of the Dead prints and banners are wonderful to behold.

Thanks to HDMG, Grupo Soap del Corazon, and the artists. Further documentation on this wonderful series of events can be seen at our website. A very limited number of individual steamroller prints are available.

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