Over the summer, I discovered an amazing alternative to the etching press traditionally used for printmaking. It is called the Bottle Jack Press, and plans to build one can be found here. “What’s wrong with an etching press?” you might ask. The main problem with an etching press is that they typically cost thousands of dollars, even used. The Bottle Jack Press is a super economical alternative to the etching press because it uses a stationary platen and bed to print the image rather than rollers. The platen and bed are squished together with a hydraulic jack used for lifting a car. Furthermore, it is constructed with parts from the local hardware store, such as 2×4 lumber and slotted steel angle.
After discovering the plans this summer, I was looking around my home shop, and discovered that I had many of the necessary materials to build a press. A quick trip to Home Depot last Friday rounded out the materials list, and I spent way too much of the weekend building the press. It was transported to school in pieces and assembled on Monday. The completed press weighs about a hundred pounds, and can compress a stack of newspaper to half its original height with ease. Currently it is living in the painting studio, waiting patiently for me to finish my (in progress) linoleum block so I can test it.