The Art of Block printing
Block printing is repeat patterning on a fabric using carved wooden blocks.
It is a centuries-old craft practiced in India, yet so versatile that even today, it is on the forefront of the fashion scene. There are no limits to the designs - borders, floral motifs, paisleys, elephants, peacocks, human figures, and much more! Besides, multiple designs or patterns can be created from a limited number of blocks - truly, the end product is much more than the sum of it's parts!
A printing studio, would, typically, have a large printing table, a tray to hold the print paste, colors, blocks, and fabric to be printed on.
- The printing table is the base or the platform where the fabric is placed. It's made out of multiple layers of jute and fabric, held together by wood. Sizes can range from ones that can hold a sari (about 10m long), to mini foldable ones that are travel friendly (about 1/2 meter long).
- The printing tray is made of a waterproof material to hold the paste. Thin layers of cloth ensure that the paste is evenly distributed around the tray and on to the block when placed in the tray. Trays are usually around 14" by 14'' - this gives enough space for one large block, or if you're adventurous, two colors for different blocks.
- Colors (pigments) can be chemical, natural (vegetable) or somewhere in between. Binders and fixers also have to be mixed in to ensure that the colors do not run or fade after a wash.
- Then of course is the fabric. While I typically print on cotton material to be made into kurtas, I've had workshop attendees print on all kinds of material, from paper to silk, and on all types of end products - from T-shirts to sarees to pillow covers, to stolls. The variations are endless!
Take a look at our facebook page for snapshots from our workshops - you'll see the table, tray, colors, the end products, and people having a lot of fun!