Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Product Review: Rolling Mill Resource

I recently had the great privilege of spending a week in the home studio of metalsmith Melissa Muir. It was a working trip - I am helping her with some photos for her upcoming book about the hydraulic press - but we found plenty of time to play. Among other things, Melissa introduced me to texture papers from Rolling Mill Resource.... and I fell hard in love with the rolling mill all over again. I placed my own order after I got home and finally had the chance to sit down and play with it about 10 days ago.

I am so thrilled with this product that I could not wait to share it with you! Aside from superb customer service (which seems to be in short supply these days), Tracey from Rolling Mill Resource stocks an eclectic assortment of patterns and designs in a variety of sizes. The cost is reasonable, too - small sheets start at $2.50 and options go all the way up to large sheets for $12.60. My first order (shown above) included some small shape templates and - to my surprise - a very generous package of sample designs for testing in my rolling mill.  My second order included even more samples to play with before I committed my paid designs to the metal.

The designs are deeply laser cut into heavyweight paper - the brown patterns in the photos above are the recessed areas, which are crisp and clean even where there is a lot of fine detail. Tracey's free downloadable instructions are super easy to follow and give a great overview of the mechanics of roll printing that's very helpful in learning the process. I invited a couple of my more advanced metals students to have a play date in the studio with me yesterday so we could experiment with the patterns, and even for those who had never worked with a rolling mill before, the results were uniformly excellent. I don't think we got a bad roll print all day!

This is one of my favorites - and it's on a particularly thick piece of copper. The print is perfect.

I also love the subtle matte texture the uncut sections of paper leave on the metal.

Once we printed up a bunch of metal, we used some of the Rolling Mill Resource templates to make some components.

We had such a good time! And although we didn't wind up doing anything ground-breaking with the components we made, it was fun to experiment with shapes and patterns, and everyone left with lots of metal to play with at home.

My friend Dawn's earrings, using a harlequin pattern from Rolling Mill Resource
My earrings using Mikel's Flower pattern from Rolling Mill Resource
If texturing metal and roll printing interests you, Melissa has an excellent video on the difference between the embossing achieved in a hydraulic press and roll printing in a rolling mill. She also has a video on the process of roll printing which will give you a good look at how it works. And when you're ready to try some paper patterns, you won't be sorry if you start with the excellent selection at Rolling Mill Resource. You can even get them to convert your own photos to custom textures, something I plan to try very soon, and although I haven't tried any this way, the patterns are also suitable for use with metal clay.

It's such a pleasure to come across an artist who not only provides top-of-the-line customer service but also an excellent and original product. I have amassed a fairly substantial collection of their patterns in a short amount of time, and I am really looking forward to experimenting more with them. I have some ideas... now where did I put that extra time I was saving?

Until next time -

Edited to add: This is not a sponsored post, and I received no compensation from Rolling Mill Resource for featuring their products. I paid for the patterns I received, and my opinion is based solely on my personal experience with them. Melissa Muir is a personal friend, and all her videos are free to everyone on YouTube.


  1. Thanks for sharing a great resource, I am off to check it out

  2. What amazing results! I would love to play with these.

    1. We had a lot of fun, Jen - I've honestly never had such consistently good results in the rolling mill before!

  3. A rolling mill is my next "wish list" item! Thanks for sharing! I love the earrings, too!

    1. Thanks, Melissa - I'm kind of excited about this because for a long time my rolling mill was just a big paperweight! I got such inconsistent results that it wasn't fun for me. Yesterday was a blast!

  4. I've bought several of Tracey's rolling mill patterns and am also really impressed with the service and how good they are. I didn't realize they would convert photos to designs for use with a rolling mill too. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  5. What a great post. Love love love the earrings!

  6. My rolling mill has arrived and I ordered some of these sheets. It was hard to choose. Thanks for sharing


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