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Small hand rollers, also called brayers, are versatile tools often used for printmaking and a variety of other tasks, including painting base coats, inking stamps, applying glue for laminating or bookbinding, or use in paper crafts for embossing and burnishing. You can also embellish one with textured material such as lace or burlap to create interesting patterns as you roll. While valued by professional artists, brayers are also a handy implement for young creatives, especially since they are so easy to use. Commonly made out of rubber or a synthetic substitute, rollers come in a range of stiffnesses, with a softer roller providing more flexibility and coverage on uneven surfaces, and a harder roller working best for inking fine details. Our picks below will help you find the best brayer for your child’s project needs.
Speedball Pop-In Brayer Kit
This all-purpose brayer comes with four interchangeable rollers so you always have the right one for the task at hand. Choose from a soft or hard rubber roller, one made of foam, or a unique acrylic roller designed specifically for gluing applications that involve tacky substances such as rubber cement or wax. The rollers provide smooth and even coverage when in use and are easy to pop in and out of the comfortable handle; this also makes them easy to clean. This brayer is 4 inches wide and is built to tolerate accidental knocks from young artists.
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Educational Hard Rubber Brayer
If you’re in the market for a hard brayer only, we recommend this product. Designed with self-lubricating nylon bearings, the durable roller moves without any bumpiness while providing edge-to-edge coverage. The heat-treated steel frame is heavy-duty and not too heavy for children to manipulate, and the polypropylene handle is ergonomically designed. Finally, we like that this roller comes in six width sizes, from 2 inches to 8 inches, so you can choose the best tool for the job.
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Testrite Hard Rubber Brayer
An even more lightweight option, Testrite’s brayers are built with hardy rollers attached to a minimal one-piece frame and handle made out of a continuous loop of plated metal. This handle gives you excellent control over the roller; it also makes the tool easy to hang for efficient drying after it’s cleaned. The rubber roller is stable, sturdy, and uniform in smoothness from end to end. It’s available in three widths: 4, 6, and 8 inches.
Jack Richeson Plain Foam Brayer
These soft but dense brayers, sold by the dozen, have limited functionality, but they are an efficient option for educators who are seeking a budget-friendly bulk buy. Made of foam, they are ideal for applying and spreading paint, as they absorb liquid easily but also release it without resistance. Use them for stenciling, printmaking, and other crafts. The 3-inch-wide roller is a good size for small school projects and can be removed for thorough washing. While not exactly heavy duty, this is a perfectly utilitarian option that can be reused for many artmaking sessions.
Dylusions Gel Plate Printing Brayer
Small brayers can be hard to find. This one is just 2¼ inches wide, making it ideal for little hands and for anyone making art with a small surface area. While designed for spreading paint on gel printing plates, it can be used for a variety of other crafts. The soft rubber roller comes in a fun shade of pink and can be removed effortlessly from the metal handle for quick rinsing. It also features little feet so you can rest it on a table without making a mess.