How it's Made
The skilled art of block printing is a technique that many of us western customers find truly fascinating. Our team in Jaipur tells their story about how the fabric for your Bombaby quilted items is lovingly made:
Block printing art is a pride in Sanganer; the age-old craft of dyeing and colouring a fabric using wooden blocks has been perfected over generations. Whether it is Rajasthan's popular Dabu print, which uses the mud printing technique, or Gujarat's Ajrakh, featuring geometric motifs, each block print is symbolic of the country's vast heritage and rich culture; India is, after all, one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of block printed fabrics.
Block printing refers to the printing technique of pressing and stamping fabric with carved wooden blocks filled with colour. “Hand blocked” or “hand block printing” are other terms that refer to block printing.
We celebrate the art of block printing on fabric. Our artisans take our original block print designs and print them onto cotton. However, the block printing process goes beyond pressing blocks onto fabric. There are so many steps involved, from carving each wooden block to preparing fabric, mixing dyes, and applying final touches. Each block printing technique requires artistry, skill, and patience. It is the sum of these tasks that produces our gorgeous block printed fabrics.
Preparing the Block
Wood blocks used for hand block printing are generally made up of Indian Rosewood, Teak wood and many types of alternative woods like sycamore, plane and pear wood. These blocks may vary in size, but should be two or three inches thick for ease. Side edges of the wood are left and are not carved. Fine details are very difficult to cut in wood and, if successfully cut, they tend to break off in printing. Each colour has a different block, so it is highly important to get the exact design in your hand. The block-carving artisans make use of tools such as small hammers, chisels and drills to be able to carve elaborate patterns into wooden blocks.
After the carving process, these blocks are dipped in mustard oil and allowed to rest for at least a week. This helps prevent cracking of the blocks upon exposure to dry conditions. The carvers also drill miniature holes into the wooden blocks to allow the wood to breathe. This also extends the life of a wooden block by up to a few decades.
After the carving process, dye is applied to the wooden block surface with the help of a ‘sieve’. The wooden block is gently pressed onto the palette of dye before being applied against the fabric.
The chosen fabric for block printing is first washed to remove all the starch. Fabrics such as saree lengths usually require dyeing. This is done before the printing process begins. For hand block printing, the craftsman will lay the fabric on a printing table, stretching it across the entire length and hold it in place with tiny pins.
Block printing has a special technique that needs to be followed in order to get the desired results. Printing always begins from left to right. A plank of wood is used to even out the colour on the tray. The craftsman dips the block into a dark outline colour and applies it to the fabric. This is done repeatedly along the length and breadth of the fabric.
Once the hand block-printing process is complete, the fabric is then left to dry out in the sun. Different dyes may be used for block printing on cotton and silk fabrics. Some of the common cotton dyes include indigo sol, pigment dyes and rapid dyes. The traditional colours used for block printing are red, black, brown, mustard and orange.
With all these all processes complete, the fabrics are ready for their final treatment in clean water and a good steam iron. Which then elongates the fabric, and print durability.
Whilst these are the basic details, the fact is this industry is vast and so is the love for the art; we will always welcome our followers to visit our home, for more behind the scenes information.