The best description I have heard of a rolling mill was an observation made by one of my students who, after watching me roll out a piece of metal exclaimed, “A pasta roller for metal! Cool!”
Although it can have a reputation as finicky and hard to maintain, this wonderful tool allows a metalworker to pattern sheet, make custom wire, decrease the thickness of plate and wire, and make amazing fold-forms shapes.
Here’s a couple of things to remember when you run out and buy your own…
1. The rollers must be protected from rust, so they need to be kept oiled and wrapped in paper or cloth when the rolling mill is not in use.
2. When using the rolling mill, a brass plate (mine was cut from a brass kick plate for an outside door) will help protect your rollers from being imprinted during texturing and help give a nice, clean impression.
3. All metals should be annealed, pickled, and rinsed before they are rolled.
4. Always wipe your rollers after use to clean any metal residue or grit.
5. Rule of thumb – the handle should turn with effort, but never tighten it down to the point of having to use so much force that you could damage your equipment.
There are many wonderful texture plates commercially available. Also, many unusual textures can be embossed on metal using common everyday objects like sandpaper, lace, feathers, or leaves. We use our rolling mill constantly. Its been an enormous addition to our studio!