The art of Indian Block Print Fabrics
The art of Indian block print textiles is a labor-intensive, painstaking process that has survived from ancient times to the present because of the beauty of the handmade products. Scraps of cloth found in the ruins of Mohenjo Daro, an ancient city of the Indus Valley Civilization, provide evidence that block printing was practiced in India as long ago as 3000 BCE. The art flourished in the 12th century under the patronage of the rajas. The 17th century saw a revitalization of the art. And still, here in the 21st century, block printing of fabric by hand is an art practiced by Indian artisans for the enjoyment of owners of those fabrics throughout the world. Through this article you will get to know more about The art of Indian Block Print Fabrics.
The process of block printing takes time, team work and, especially, skill. The three main tools of a block printed fabric are the wooden blocks, the fabric and the dye. It can take five carvers up to three days to create an intricate design in a block of teak for use as a printing block. The printers may use up to 30 blocks to complete a design. Separate blocks are required for each of the colors used in a design and it is not unusual to have four or five colors in a professional design. It can take twenty people, each doing a separate task, up to eight hours to prepare a single block printed garment. With all this, the results can only be unique.
The process of block printing begins with the wooden blocks. Wood carvers cut designs into blocks of different shapes and sizes. The top of the block has a handle for the printers to grasp. Each block has two or three cylindrical holes through it to permit the passage of air and to allow excess dye to squeeze out. There are also various points carved into to block which the printers use as placement indicators as they pick the block up and move it to the next patch of fabric. Each block is soaked in oil for one and one half to two weeks to soften the wood.