India is a powerhouse of various handicrafts and one such beautiful craft that has been thriving for centuries is hand-block printing. The design aesthetic, fine detailing and intricacy of the motifs makes hand-block printing a unique craft.
Hand-block printing is a technique by which carved wooden blocks covered with dyes are repeatedly pressed along the length of the fabric. It is a simple method of printing and yet involves considerable skill and dedication. The designs are carefully engraved on to the wooden blocks and each color has to be individually added using different blocks.
Types of Hand printing :
There are different methods of hand-block printing followed in different region of India. Few such methods are Ajrakh prints, Pedana prints, Kalamkari and Batik prints.
Ajrakh is a long and laborious process of resist printing that originated in Kutch, Gujarat and involves around 16 stages of printing. The traditionally used natural colors are blue, black, red and white. It might take around 15 - 20 days to complete a saree. It is a popular form of hand-block printing and adored all over the world for the intricacy of the prints.
Pedana is a small town in Andhra Pradesh known for hand-block printing. The designs are carefully traced on to the wooden block and carved precisely. Making of the block is the most crucial part here and different metal tools are used for carving minute designs.
Kalamkari is one of the most loved hand printing method and a traditional form of Indian art. Exquisite and colorful designs are created using natural dyes. In traditional Kalamkari printing, the figurines are fully hand-drawn on to the fabric like a work of art and blocks are later added to impart different colors to different parts of the fabric. Vegetable dyes are normally used in this method. Flora and Fauna are popularly used as motifs for Kalamkari prints.
Batik is a magnificent craft that involves wax printing. Because of the artistic freedom, the designs used here can look quite abstract. The complexity of the design, the number of times the fabric is immersed in the dye bath and the wax applied determines the final outcome.
Block printed sarees will continue to hold a special place among saree lovers. You can checkout our curated collection of block-printed sarees here.