Block Printing

HAND BLOCK PRINTING

One of the ways India as a country expresses itself is through its rich and exquisite diversity of Textiles. It’s a blend of exceptional craftsmanship, creativity, magnificent colors and finest quality.

In India, this ancient printing technique utilizes a hand-carved teak wood block that is dipped in dye and stamped by hand onto cotton or silk. The result is truly unique, hand block printed fabric that connects us to a rich tradition and history of handmade crafts.

Most of the blocks are based on Indian mythology or inspired by the natural world, including animals, flowers, human figures, gods and goddesses are popular. Many also feature complicated geometric patterns.

One of the techniques of creating beautiful textiles is the hand block printing. It is one of the oldest Indian craft forms in which artisans use wooden blocks for creating intricate patterns on the fabric. With craftsmen across the country expressing their personal stories through the craft we have multifarious prints to choose from. But there are few prints that have gained worldwide recognition. The important centres for this form of hand printing are Jaipur.

The traditional process of hand block printing on textiles, with rich natural colors, has been practiced in Rajasthan for around 500 years.  Block printing was introduced to the Jaipur region of Rajasthan by the Chhipa community. The art of block printing has been passed down for generations within families and communities and has branched out in recent decades to other regions such as Sanganer, just South of Jaipur. 

Designers from the West have worked closely with local artisans to create Indo-Western styles which are inspired by other cultures, pop-art, nature and city-scapes.  This collaboration has been beneficial for everyone as new designs emerge, but also it helps to tell the story of block printing and keep the market alive.  we work at our own facility using AZO free, eco-friendly, pigment dyes with our own print designs

 

While the block printing process takes practice to master, it can be explained in a few simple steps.

First, the block for the design must be created. The design influenced by the nature, beliefs, and customs of the region. These motifs regularly take the form of geometric patterns, animals, or plants.

The wood block is oiled and sanded before the craftsman carefully chips away at the block, leaving behind the desired design for the stamp.

Second, the artisan pre-washes the fabric. This makes the block printing process highly sustainable, because it reduces water consumption.

Third, the fabric is dyed its base color, laid flat on a table, and fixed firmly to the table with pins. Although small variations in the printing are part of what make Indian block print fabrics so special.

Fourth, the artisan mixes together four or five basic, natural colors to create a multitude of dyes. The block is then dipped in dye and stamped firmly by hand onto the fabric. This requires a certain amount of force, often achieved either by hitting the stamp by hand or with the aid of a hammer. If the design incorporates multiple colors, then each is applied separately with its own block.

Lastly, once the dye has dried, the completed block print fabric is rinsed in a local river or waterway. The block printing process concludes by hanging the fabric to dry in the sun.

Good hand block printing requires skill and plenty of practice in order to create uniformity and clear block printing patterns. The tiny variations in the block printing, vibrant and meaningful motifs, and handmade technique of Indian block print fabric are what give it such a unique charm.

Block printing is typically done in open-air facilities in villages, or in people’s homes.  It provides a source of income to many village families and is an environmentally positive approach to textile production in rural India.  It is Gandhi’s philosophy of keeping more people employed within their traditional environment.

We pride ourselves on our traditionally crafted, hand block printed textiles. We carry a variety of block print cushions, rugs, clothing, bags and more. Browse our full inventory or shop ART AVENUE today.