Hand-block printing is a traditional technique that involves printing a design onto fabric using wooden blocks. The blocks are carved to imprint repeating patterns onto the fabric. These blocks are then used to impart the dyes onto the fabric in a specific layout. The entire process is carried out by hand with a focus on detail.
In this short blog, we outline the different steps involved in this delicate process.
Creation of design is the first and foremost step in hand-block printing. It can be done by hand or using computer software. The design is printed onto a transparent film once finalized. Hand-blocks take inspiration for their patterns from different floral elements and mythical figurines that carry historic significance.
The next step is to carve the design onto wooden blocks. Selection of wood plays an important role in the carving process. The wood must be dense enough to withstand the carving process. Hard woods such as teak or rosewood are commonly used. Chisels and hammers are used by skilled artisans to carve the designs in the wood. Each block is carved to create a different element of the design. For example, if there is a floral design, a single block might be used to imprint the branches of the floral elements in one color and a second block might be used to imprint the floral elements in another color.
Preparing the fabric
The fabric is washed and dried to remove any impurities. The pre treated fabric is then stretched and fixed onto the printing table.
The wooden blocks are dipped into the color dyes and pressed firmly on the fabric. This process is repeated evenly throughout the fabric, aligning the block carefully to create a continuous pattern.
Once the printing is complete, the fabric is allowed to dry completely before it is washed again to remove any excess dye. The fabric is treated with fixative to ensure there are no color bleeding in the future. It can be done either by steaming or using chemical fixative.
The final step is finishing the fabric, which involves ironing or steaming to set the dye and improve the colorfastness. The printed fabric is then ironed to set the colors.
Hand-block printing is a time-consuming process that requires a high level of skill and attention to detail. Each piece of fabric is printed by hand, making each piece unique. The result is a beautiful and intricate design.
Here are some beautiful hand-block printed sarees curated from Parisera.