The most ancient textile art forms are eco-pleasant. Many traditional methods of fabric weaving, dyeing and even printing are the most suitable example of sustainable practices. One such textile printing technique is hand block printing. This beautiful textile art, not only respect nature and planet, but as well it celebrates it.
In this method the fabric print is created using blocks, as itself the name of the method suggest. The blocks which are used in this printing techniques are made from linoleum or rubber, wood. But the traditional method always use wood to make this blocks. Each block could take several hours and even days to complete depending on the details in the design. The blocks are treated with oil and set aside to soften once the design is fully carved. This whole process makes the blocks ready to hold the colours.
To create the impression when the blocks are ready the printer applies colour to the block, press it on the fabric and strikes it hard with the help of a mallet. In order to darken the impression this step is repeated. Throughout the length of the fabric this printing is carried out and the after finishing result is an amazing textile with a rustic and unique finish.
Hand block printed fabrics are sets apart by a factor which is tiny imperfections that are inherited in this handcrafted artisan product. The most adorable part about a handmade fabrics are the essence which makes every hand block print full of life and exotic and making a difference from the masses of factory produced prints.
With its roots in India, China and Japan, hand block printing has a rich history which can be traced back to the fifth century B.C. This art is being practiced by many artisan communities in these countries today, in which each got their distinct characteristics and features that is one of a kind.
As goes for the most ancient practices, every process which is included in hand block printing such as the preparation of cloth is time consuming and labour intensive. Cotton is torn by hand and scoured with soda ash in the traditional method before being washed and thrashed repeatedly in order to remove starch and natural oils. It is then treated with a mixture of castor oil and cow dung to bleach it. In order to give the fabric a pale yellow shade, finally a myrobalan but bath introduces tannins. All these steps can require up-to two weeks to complete. So, you can have a fair idea of the effort that goes into just preparing the fabric for printing.
In an era where machines churn out fabric yards imitations, hand block printed fabric is a product that is created by hand with care and skill. As with any textile produced by artisans, this factor alone makes this fabric very attractive. However, fabrics with hand block printing have another special factor that few other designs can replicate. Most of the original method of hand block printing remain intact, but the technique has evolved over centuries and each one of the hand block printed fabric has its own story to narrate.
You will see how intricate hand block printing work is by taking a closer look of any authentic hand block printed fabric. Human touch with fascinating little imperfections that cannot be replicated by a machine is apparent.
Finally, we must appreciate every stage of creating a hand block print printed fabric and the painstaking effort that goes into the process. It is a celebration of ecological integrity which are nature, plant and people who are closely involved in each step of creating this magnificent fabric print. The prints are beautiful renditions of animals, plants and human cultures. Thus, hand block printing is considered as an environmental friendly art that deserve recognition and appreciation and one of a kind which showcases the beauty of nature at its best.