Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Block Printing

Shree Carpet and Textile Mahal in Jaipur

India has a long tradition of block printing. This is a printing technique whereby wood blocks are carved to create a raised pattern on the surface of the block. The block is placed in a dye paste to coat the raised pattern, and then it is stamped onto the surface of cloth that has been stretched onto a table. You will need one wood block for each color is the design. Generally, most fabrics are 3-4 colors, although you might find some which contain up to nine colors.

After the fabric is printed, it is placed in a salt and vinegar bath, and the color changes slightly to become brighter. The fabrics are then placed in the sun for three days to set the dye.

I got to try my hand at printing. I didn’t have the physical hand strength that the master printer had, so it would take a bit of practice for me to become proficient.

You can see various images here: wood blocks, carved and ready for printing, the dye, printing, a three-color print, and my attempts at printing.

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