The Block-Printing Technique


our visit to a traditional block-printing studio in Udaipur

For centuries, the western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat have produced and exported textiles.  This region remains one of India's largest producers of textiles and artisans still practice the very techniques developed by their ancestors.

 



 

Another traditional method of textile design in Rajasthan, India is wooden block-printing. There are various styles of block-printing and materials used in this practice of resist-dyeing.  The patterns achieved on all block printed textiles are created by the individual stamp designs of a master printer.  

 This centuries-old technique requires the skill of various artisans: first a wood carver designs and creates the motif on each handheld stamp.  The master printer then holds this stamp and dips it in dye or in a dye-resistant material like mud or wax, and hand-prints the intended design onto a piece of natural fabric.



Decorating textiles through methods of resist-dyeing has been practiced across the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan for many centuries.  Last week we discussed "Bandhani" which uses a tie and dyeing method of resist-dyeing.

The other technique for resist-dying: "creates patterns either by painting or printing. In order to resist the dye, areas of the cloth that are to form the pattern or design are coated with impermeable substances such as wax, gum or rice paste, resin, starch or mud.  Once the cloth has been dyed, the resist subtances are removed by immersion in hot or cold water, or by ironing or brushing."   (Gillow, John, and Nicholas Barnard. Indian Textiles. London: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Print.)


CARVED WOOD BLOCKS ARE SAVED AND REUSED

A MASTER PRINTS THE DESIGN WITH MUD

VARIOUS PRINTING MATERIALS AND TOOLS


The terrain of western India is dramatic, but for most of the year it is a landscape painted with shades of yellows and browns, broken by the irrigated fields of rich green and punctuated by clusters of thorn and other hardy trees adjacent to the wells and seasonal lakes. By way of relief to the monotony of these dull tones, the people of the region have a deep-seated need for colour which is vented in the vibrancy of their clothes, animal trappings, and house decorations: the richness of the region’s textile culture is indeed evident to the visitor as well as to the follower of fashion in the west.
— Gillow, John, and Nicholas Barnard. Indian Textiles. London: Thames & Hudson, 2008. Print.