Explore The Uniqueness of Hand Block Printing

Explore The Uniqueness of Hand Block Printing textile sourcing

Nowadays, it’s uncommon to find anything for sourcing fabric that wasn’t developed in some kind of industrial setting through mass production or the use of machines. Finding a genuine, handmade textile by chance is less likely than it has ever been. How difficult would it be to envision this in this age of technological advancement? A time when every garment was made by hand and every design was imprinted using a distinct process? Quite the challenge, huh? But trust us, there are still a few villages in India from which you can do textile sourcing. These towns have tiny workshops that use the traditional block printing pattern. And they are fully dedicating themselves to maintaining this century-old technique by handing it down from generation to generation.

When asked, “What is block printing?” Of course, India is a key hub for the textile sourcing of this kind of cloth. Craftspeople use wooden or metal blocks to press dyed fabric, creating elaborate patterns. Craftsmen have supposedly been employing this method since the 12th century, but a closer investigation reveals that it likely originated in China 4,500 years ago and that we adopted it from them more than 2,000 years ago! The earliest known Rajasthani prints are from the third century! It’s amazing that we’ve managed to keep this lovely custom going for so long in our nation.

There are still many areas that use the time-honored hand-made method, which involves collaboration between block carvers, chiapas printers, rangrez dyers, and dhobi washers. This method will no doubt get refined over time. And even in some cases, get supplant by screen printing. It takes practice to master the synchronization of your eyes and hands for this, but the human flaws that arise are what make this art form so unique.

How it all started in India

The art of hand-carved block printing may have begun in China, but it was in India that it found its most sophisticated expression. And there can be no mistake about that when it comes to a nation like ours, given the depth of knowledge and experience our artisans bring to the table. The Indians have mastered the use of mordants, metallic salts that generate color and set it into cloth, in addition to their own unique skill with natural plant dyes. Dabu, a kind of resist-printing that was particularly popular in this region, allowed for the reservation of some fabric sections from dye in order to create a variety of designs.

Fabric gets shades first, and then the workers remove dye from certain areas. It is a process using chemicals to produce patterns in a range of colors using a process called “discharge printing.” Indian block printers used mordants, dabu, and dyeing to produce intricate patterns and motifs that were unlike anything else. Block printing in India results in stunning patterns for saris, bedsheets, pillow covers, and other materials that we have in our everyday lives.

Look at this one-of-a-kind procedure with me:

Starch gets eliminated from cotton by soaking it in water for around 24 to 48 hours. After it gets soft by putting in some treatment, the cloth is either kept to naturally bleach in the sun or put through the dyeing process again. This cloth is then pinged down firmly on the printing table.

After sketching out the necessary pattern on paper, it gets transferred to a piece of wood, which is often carved from a tree. Mango wood is often preferred by craftspeople. Then the fabric gets shaded using a different block of wood.

The printing process starts when the cloth, colors, and patterns are prepared. To get a sharp imprint, the blocks are first dipped in dye. After that, put it firmly into the cloth, and lastly, treat it with a hammer. This process continues throughout the whole length of the cloth until the design is completely covered. Using more than one color in the pattern means waiting for each layer to dry before moving on. Therefore, only skilled carvers should attempt such a task, since it is exceedingly time-consuming.

After learning the necessary steps, the dye gets dried, the cloth gets washed, and it is again kept to dry in the sun.

When everything gets ironed out, a final inspection is needed to look for any quality problems, trim any excess fabric, or repair any necessary areas.

Therefore, block printing is a time-consuming technique that calls for great care. Most of the time-consuming, delicate work is left until last. As such, it may be given the attention it needs to prevent any mishaps.

Handblock printing in different parts of India

Different parts of the nation have their own unique palettes of colors and designs. Geometric block printing patterns from Gujarat have become very famous. They like using all-natural dyes, such as indigo for blue and madder roots for red. The intricate Kutch designs sometimes include birds, animals, and even dancing women.

The state of Rajasthan is known for its love of brightly colored prints depicting people, birds, animals, and various deities. Punjab, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Maharashtra are other important centers of block printing in India. Each state has its own distinct style, and it would be interesting to go around and compare them.

Bottom Line

From its origins to the present day, handblock printing has enjoyed immense popularity. During ancient times, it was considered the only option. However, in the present era, there are a number of alternatives for prints. But people prefer to buy it owing to its beauty and perfection in flaws.

Handblocked textiles have the potential to enhance the value of your designer collection and give satisfaction to your customers. However, with the unorganized sector of the Indian fabric market, textile sourcing has become a difficult task. But Fabric lore has come as a solution platform for you, where you can get an endless variety of fabrics. Our customized alternative can make your fabric sourcing process easy and smooth. Further, with our network, you can get material as per your preference and customize it in such a way that your consumers will feel satisfied. We source fabric from different fabric vendors so that you can get a variety of materials for your designer collection.

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About the Author: Neha Pandey

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