Hand Block Printing of India is steadily gaining prominence in the Global Fashion Industry. However, this wasn’t the case a few years back. What changed for the Handblock printing industry? Read on to know more.
Origins of Block Printing
Block Printing was prevalent in India for centuries. Evidence indicates that it's been in India for so long as 3000 BCE, in the days of Mohenjo-Daro, an ancient town of the Indus Valley Civilization. While it thrived across the 12th century under the patronage of the Maharajas, it was just around the 17th century that the process of block printing gained prominence.
What is Block Printing?
To put it simply, block printing is a complicated process of dyeing and coloring a fabric/garment/textile with the help of a wooden block.
Metal or wooden blocks are carved using handheld tools to make beautiful designs that are then imprinted on the cloth.
Various materials such as wood, rubbers & linoleumare also utilized to make blocks for fabric printing purposes. Another name for block printing is called ‘relief printing'.
What Happens in Block Printing?
Block printing procedure is not that straightforward. It demands utmost diligence, unique skills, ability, teamwork& most importantly perseverance.
- The block printing process usually begins with carving the wooden block. Artisans cut the wooden block into different shapes, dimensions & designs.
- To ensure easy air passage, three cylindrical holes are made in each block.
- The beautifully carved wooden block is then dipped into the dye
What are the types of Hand Block Printing?
There are 3 prominent types of Hand Block Printing namely:
1. Direct Block Printing
In Direct block printing process, the fabric is initially bleached. After the bleaching process, dyeing is done.
One interesting part of the direct block printing process that you should note is that the background color remains constant. A well-designed wooden block is used to dye the fabric.
2. Discharge Printing
In this process, the garment (saree) is initially dyed with color. Then the dye is removed from those sections of the cloth where a printer will be used to imprint designs. After this process, the bleached section is treated. Finally, the dye is applied again to achieve an alluring block print design.
3. Resist Printing
In this process, a wooden block is utilized to apply an impermeable resist with the help of clay, resin or wax. During the dyeing process, the areas which are covered by the resist do not allow dye permeation. Once the resists are removed, you will see alluring designs which are created in the reverse.
Why is Hand Block Printing Getting Worldwide Recognition?
Block Printing is becoming a worldwide trend due to the fact that artisans can make stunning designs on sarees with the help of beautifully carved wooden blocks.
Rachel Bracken Singh who is one of the founders of Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing, Jaipur is proud of the Indian Hand Block Printing Industry. She believes that such an industry doesn’t exist anywhere in the World except India.She states that dyeing fabric in natural dyes is a growing trend among small & medium businesses. She thinks that it is a viable way to create printed textiles.
Indian Traditions are fading fast
The current generation is accustomed to wearing modern clothes that are made using mechanized process. Many large businesses stick to these business models to make humongous profits.
But, little do they know that such business models are affecting rural artisans & craftsmen.
The skills required to carry out block carving & printing are difficult to achieve. These skills are usually passed down from generation to generation. But, due to rapid urbanization artisans are being forced to move to cities for better livelihood. Their decision is breaking the chain of passing down the skills of block printing.
How are Independent Businesses Helping?
Many independent ethical businesses around the world are encouraging artisans & craftsmen to create block-printed fabrics. These businesses are acting as flagbearers for block-printed garments like sarees.
They procure the garments from artisans at a fair price & promote them in local exhibitions, renowned stores & online websites. These efforts from independent brands are proving to be boon for artisans & craftsmen.
People are being made aware of the Indian block printing heritage. Many women are stepping forward to buy locally-made products. This is helping the artisans to sustain their livelihoods.
Don't be surprised if you happen to see Chanderi or Kota Doria sarees on your next shopping spree in the UK or the US. Many ethical brands are promoting block printed garments such as sarees around the world. Due to their efforts, the printed blue-red-black fabrics from Gujarat, handloom weaves from Varanasi, and Goan all-natural dyes are discovering a place in the global fashion scenario.
This is why Hand Block Printing of India is making a worldwide trend. If you are planning to get a hand block printed saree then you should check out Triyah. It boasts of amazing handcrafted sarees like Kota Doria, Chanderi, Linen, Linen Organza & Cotton Silk sarees.