Block printing with love

On any tour to India block printing is always a must, the women love to share the experience with any of the artisans,  of course block printing sessions can be put together in any large store to meet the demands of tourism, but this is not what Tiger Travel is about. It is about supporting and keeping traditions alive.

Small villages dotted around the desert have been block printing for generations, obtaining their own dyes from plants,metal wood and a host of other things, block prints are carved by hand and kept within a family for years, yes designs have changed but many indians still prefer the old designs, and what a collectionof  blocks to be seen ,often stacked in neat piles for 50 or more years at the back of workshops. These workshops are a place of treasures.

block printed cloth

Treasures will always be in the eye of the beholder, sometimes its the layers of dye fading away on the wall, cotton covers on the block printing tables that have been stained over the years with different colours, in spite of regular washing,  photographs taken of hands that have seen so many years of hard work. This is the real India. Take a look at some photos taken on tour

cotton ready to be dyed


The Art of Block Printing

The beautiful art of block Printing employs wooden or metal blocks to print designs and patterns on fabric, by hand. What makes block Printing unique is that the design has to be created by the artist before the Printing begins. It is carved onto the block by hand. The colors used are normally vegetable dyes. Mineral and non-toxic chemical dyes are also used. The carved block is dipped into the required color, and then it is used to design the fabric

design ready to be cut

block printing

Rajasthan has a long and distinguished traditon of printing with finely carved wooden blocks. The secret is finding the villages.  This method, though labourious, is actually quite simple and merely calls for precision. The cloth is laid out flat on a table or bench and a freshly dipped block is handpressed on to the fabric to form a continuous, interlocking pattern. The block carries dye if the original colour of the cloth has to be preserved.

If the cloth has to be dyed, the block is used to apply an impermeable resist – a material such as clay, resin or wax – to demarcate the pattern that is not to be coloured. Later, when the cloth is dyed, the pattern emerges in reverse. Traditonally, block-printing relied on the use of natural dyes and pigments, but now synthetic dyes have gained currency as they are cheaper. If you belong to the green brigade, stick to eco-friendly naturally dyed cloth.

The floral motifs favoured by the printers of Bagru and Sanganer are Persian in origin, though Sanganeri designs are more sophisticated. They usually have a white or pale background decorated with colorful twigs or sprays.

dyeing workshop

Primitive looking workshop, yes, but after all this is the Real India as seen by Tiger Travel, when you want more from a holiday than just knowing you have beena there!


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