Hand Block Printing27 September 2019
When printing by hand, precision is key to create a clean and high quality print. Whether using one block to create a simple one-colour geometric, or using multiple blocks that overlap each other to create layers of different colours, backgrounds and details, it takes a lot of skill to produce a crisp pattern.
The block printing process involves many stages, including designing and carving the block, and preparing the fabric for dye. But once the block has been carved out, and the fabric has been stretched onto the printing table, the pattern is carefully lined up upon the fabric, dye is applied to the block and the pattern is printed by stamping the block firmly onto the fabric. This is repeated along the fabric, withthe block passed back and forth between printers to build up a repeat design, and the process is repeated for each colour layer within the pattern. Our block prints often come in pieces that are 6 or 10m long, this is because the size of the printers table limits how much fabric can be printed in one go.
Kalamkari is a great example of how intricate the prints can be. The process includes a combination of wood block printing and hand painting, and began as a form of storytelling. Traditional Kalamkari include motifs of florals, paisleys and divine characters printed in natural dyes. The main pattern is printed by block and then some colours and details are filled in by hand with a pen (Kalam.) It's a labour intensive process that yields incredible results.
All of our block prints and kalamkari are sourced by ourselves when we visit India twice a year. We enjoy working closely with the artisans and textile traders, even commissioning our own prints, in order to promote and uphold these traditional skills.