Did you know that block printing was devised to print texts? It was first invented in China to reproduce copies of books! And the influence was such that it raised the literacy rate in China! However India has always used block printing to style textiles.
How is Block Printing done?
Often, a simple block printed saree or a block printed kurti takes effort from dozens of artists.
Steps for Block Printing Fabrics:
- The design is traced on the sheesham, pear, sycamore or lime wood pieces with lampblack.
- Wood is carved by trained artisans. For complex designs, 'coppering' is done, where copper strips are etched in the blocks.
- Then blocks are submerged in oil to fill the grains in the wood.
- Next, a color sieve is prepared containing a paste of dye colour and starch. The sieve allows the blocks to take up colour without being drenched.
- The fabric is then stretched across a large working table for printing.
- When there are multiple colours to be printed in the same design, 'Toby printing' is used.
Here, a large block is engraved with designs and the colour sieve is divided into compartments so that each block of design fits right into its dye paste.
- The last step is washing and drying it.
The craft is practiced across India and has many different names. Ajrakh of Gujarat, Sanganeri and Dabu prints of Rajasthan, Kalamkari prints of Andhra Pradesh and many more.
How to Identify a Block Printed fabric?
- Every hand block printed fabric has a registration mark on the outline block. It helps the printer align the print. This mark can help you decide the authenticity.
- Hand block print fabric is prone to have slight variations. These slips make this fabric more human and beautiful!
Journey of Block Printing in India
The earliest records of Indian block printed textile comes from the archaeological remnants of Syria from the 3rd century CE! In India the craft was given royal patronage and it was in demand in the local market as well. The traditional block printing designs consist of birds, animals, flowers, mangoes etc.
These days designs also include geometric and asymmetric shapes. Hence these fabrics can be used for block printing curtains, block printing kurta etc.
At Suvetah, we have a whole system in place, where you can get your block designed the way you want and get the fabric printed as well.