Resources for small, affordable printmaking press alternatives!


Fervent 2.5 x 2 drypoint engraving with watercolor (available here)

Making Prints without a Press

On my youtube channel, one of the most frequent comments left on printmaking tutorials is how to make art prints and printmaking without a press. A press is an expensive investment, and they’re heavy, with a large footprint that’ll take up quite a bit of floor space in a room.  There are also many to choose from, so it’s understandable that beginning printmakers are overwhelmed.


Drypoint engraving of a little face on a tiny piece of plexiglass

Press Alternatives

There are workarounds for some printmaking methods (relief/block prints), but not all of them. Hand transfer of drypoint engravings, etchings and intaglio style prints is a lot of work, fickle in nature, and it might be so challenging for beginners that they lose interest in printmaking.  We all need successes in the studio to stay interested in continuing a new art-endeavor. Recently, I saw an intriguing post by artist Annie Day in Australia, using a small, inexpensive XCut Xpress ($150) die cutting machine made by DoCrafts to print her dry points, etchings, linocuts and collagraphs. Check it out here.


Inking the drypoint plate with a sepia brown pigment, and wiping the ink away from the surface, leaving ink embedded into the incised lines

Research Other Artist Workarounds

If you search the net for artists experimenting with printmaking from these little machines, you’ll find successful drypoint engravings printed with a Cricut Cuttlebug ($60) machine too. Check out these posts: here, here and here. I haven’t tried either of these machines as alternatives to etching presses, but the basic principles of applied pressure should work with a little tweaking of the paper, and layered padding or cards to help keep everything snug and non-moveable as the plate goes through the machine.


After pressing soaked & blotted paper to the inked & wiped plate on my etching press, pulling this little art print


Share your Successful Results

If you’ve tried one of these groovy little machines, please leave a comment to let us know how you like it, and if you have a blog that shows your set up, leave a link too. I think this option is very exciting, for the size and portability, the affordable price point,  and the opportunity for new printmakers to produce small format editions on a kitchen table. How cool is that!?

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. You can subscribe (its free) to get each of these posts as an email here.

P.P.S. My Australian artist friend DP (check out her blog here) commented on this amazing new-to-me Scottish printmaker named Colin Blanchard. His post about using the CriCut includes two demonstration videos! Have a look here.  And he started a Facebook Group to share tips, tricks and work done on these little printing press alternatives here!


Tiny drypoint painted with watercolor & framed – original art prints in my Etsy shop

Art Quote

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Twenty Five Pages of Stash-Busting Paper Craft Ideas


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26 Responses to Resources for small, affordable printmaking press alternatives!

  1. Maja Kihlstedt 28/06/2018 at 12:19 pm #

    Great blog, so appreciate your generous instructions Belinda! Just wanted to mention there is a FB group “printmaking on the xcut xpress” if anyone is interested

    • Belinda DelPesco 28/06/2018 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks for the tip, Maja! I just added a link to it on the post. 👌🏽

  2. Barbara Yost 07/01/2018 at 1:46 pm #

    I created 90 Christmas cards from an original woodblock using my tiny Epic Six this year and a home made carrier. I have also used the little craft press to make a monoprint and it will, I am sure, handle and etching with some planning and the appropriate paper or felt blanketing. The maximum print size is 5″ x 7″.

    • Belinda DelPesco 08/01/2018 at 6:58 am #

      Hi Barbara, That’s amazing! I wish these little craft presses were available when I was just getting started! SIgh. I’m convinced that over time, artisans will come up with tried & true workarounds to print any small format relief or intaglio work on them, at a fraction of the cost of a larger press. It’s *very* exciting! Great job on your productivity, and your monoprint experiment. Thanks for stopping by to leave a little more encouragement to folks considering this less cumbersome path towards printmaking on a budget.

  3. Barbara Muir 14/02/2017 at 10:10 pm #

    Love the image, the information and the quote. Your posts are magical. Happy Valentine’s Day.


    • Belinda DelPesco 15/02/2017 at 7:58 am #

      Thanks for the kindness, my friend. I’m boomeranging it back to you in imagined thousands of Spring leaves budding under branch-bark. xoxoxo

  4. Sasha Barker 14/02/2017 at 5:28 am #

    Hello Belinda, we’ve spoken before. I’m loving my Cuttlebug. Your little drypoint is inspiring me to do some even smaller than the 5×7’s I’ve been doing up ’til now. I like that you showed photos of your process. It gives me something to measure my progress to. PS: I’m giving classes at our local gallery in trace monotype. I’ll let you know how I get on.

    • Belinda DelPesco 14/02/2017 at 9:09 am #

      Hi Sasha! Its nice to hear from you again. I’m thrilled that you’re giving classes in trace monotype! It’s such an accessible form of printmaking, and with just a little guidance, the inspiration blooms! I’m glad the little drypoint is giving you ideas, and I look forward to seeing the results from your class and your experiments. Come back and visit again… Happy printing!

  5. universalpuzzle 14/02/2017 at 12:51 am #

    I am using an old wooden mangle..found at a junk yard. the Victorians used them for wringing washing. Hubby is currently making a raised flat tray to make it easier for me to place the plates.. I will use it for printing tea towels lol. I have used it but it needs more tweaking but it does work! Giselle

    • Belinda DelPesco 14/02/2017 at 9:13 am #

      Hi Giselle – Good for you on the repurposing of those old ringer cylinders! I wonder if anyone has put a Pinterest Board together of all the ways a printing press can be kluged together from disparate parts never meant for an art studio. If you take photos of your set up and post them online somewhere, please come back and post a link so others will be inspired to pull out the tool box to start something fun!

  6. cheryl1946Cheryl Bell 14/02/2017 at 12:16 am #

    Hi Belinda, thanks so much for your blog. I bought the Xcut Xpress and absolutely love it! I am about to order the long cutting board so I can create larger prints like Colin. So far I’ve done a few linocuts, but I have some excess acrylic so thought I would have a go at a drypoint. I think for many printmakers the lack of a press is a real handicap and I am delighted that there are other, inexpensive options. There was a long thread on Facebook’s ‘Linocut Friends’ about the Xcut, with printmakers from all over the world commenting on their purchase and the results. The power of the internet!

    • Belinda DelPesco 14/02/2017 at 9:19 am #

      Hi Cheryl, Thanks for adding to the conversation. I’ll search the Linocut Friends Facebook group for that thread… I’m sure there are all sorts of tips & tricks to be harvested from the collective of sharing printmakers there. We love the internet! Post your acrylic plate drypoint somewhere online so we can all be inspired and encouraged. I love that these little machines, and scrap pieces of plexiglass can launch a whole new experience to budding printmakers. 🙂

  7. Sharon 13/02/2017 at 4:42 pm #

    I have a cuttlebug that I bought for this very purpose, but I don’t know how to use it to pull small prints. I will check out the links you have provided!

    • Belinda DelPesco 14/02/2017 at 9:20 am #

      Hi Sharon, Congrats on your purchase of the cuttlebug, and I’m so glad the links might be useful to you. Here’s a cup of coffee toast to your spirit of adventure with your new tools!

  8. dinahmow 13/02/2017 at 4:40 pm #

    I recently bought a small (A4 size bed) die cutting model which many people are now using for lino cuts and etchings. The one you feature looks about the same.Mine has a pressure adjustment and i bought a small piece of felt for my blanket. So far, I’ve had no problems adjusting for lino, zinc and photopolymer plates.Like all new things, it takes a few practice runs.
    So far, everyone seems to be happy with the performance. For anyone interested, an artist in Scotland has written a blog post on his trials of it here
    And yes, “handbag” is an accurate descriptor!
    And any readers from Australia may find this helpful

    Thank you, Belinda.

    • Belinda DelPesco 13/02/2017 at 6:20 pm #

      Hi Diane, Thank you very much for the introduction to Colin’s blog! What a gold mine of printmaking inspiration. I’ll move the link up into the body of my post, with hopes that readers will also discover him, and subscribe to his youtube channel.
      Thanks again! B.

  9. Mickey Nolan 13/02/2017 at 3:02 pm #

    I have used a Cricut Cuttlebug, an Epic letterpress and the Evolution (a very sturdy little machine) as little presses and all work well. I also use an Akua pin press with good results so there are lots of choices. Your print making is always inspiring.

    • Belinda DelPesco 13/02/2017 at 3:19 pm #

      Hi Mickey, I’m so glad to hear you’ve had success with ALL of them! This gives artists so many options! Thanks very much for stopping by to let us know. And thanks for the compliment too. 🙂

  10. Gabrielle 13/02/2017 at 10:50 am #

    Hi Belinda, thanks for all these tips and links about press options – this is very exciting information!

    • Belinda DelPesco 13/02/2017 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Gabrielle – I’m glad you’ve seen this post, because I thought you might be enticed by the intaglio print options…. even more to experiment with! 🙂 happy printing!

  11. Laurel Barile 13/02/2017 at 9:59 am #

    You notice a lovely moment and fashion a print so that we may also notice. What feeling in her face, cropped and colored just so! As usual, a generous sharing…

    • Belinda DelPesco 13/02/2017 at 11:13 am #

      Thanks, Laurel, I’m glad the quiet things speak to both of us. Maybe the world could use a little more of that these days. 🙂


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