What is Hand Block Printing?

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What is Hand Block Printing?

Hand block printing is an ethnic and traditional art and practice of impressing upon fabrics and textiles attractive patterns and designs using rich natural color tones which has been practiced since ancient times in India. It is believed hand block printing has been passed down from preceding generations within the artisanal families and communities and has branched out into recent decades to other regions such as Sanganer, located  21 kilometers south of Jaipur city center and Bagru village which is an extra 26 kilometers from Sanganer town. With Bagru style block printing, all ingredients put into the traditional natural based dyes are developed within the artisanal families and propagated from preceding generation to next generation.  This ensures the protection of the original craft in its pure form, eventual maintenance and growth of original skills for future generations. All these original colors vary / differ with regard to the quality of the natural plants used, the water element added, skill and knowledge of the print masters in charge.  In recent applied methods and formulas of hand block print especially the Sanganeri prints, most colors are mixed using AZO free pigment dyes ( famous input dyes for industries like textile, paper, cosmetics, toiletries among others).

Initial Carving and Design of Hand Block Print Patterns

There are some vital stages prior to the start of carving patterns and design on the selected wooden blocks like;

  1. a) Selection of the best solid wood blocks to make wooden hand blocks.
  2. b) Smoothening the wood block surface for a uniform look using carpenter tools.
  3. c) Applying a little wood salve for easy digestion of the constant chipping and avoid breaking cracking of the wood block piece.
  4. d) Drawing the actual pattern or design from a screen print or paper using pencil or special marker.
  5. e) And finally preparing all required instruments for the work of chipping away using hammer and chisel till the intended pattern and design is achieved.

Steps by Step to Guide to Drawing Designs on Wooden Hand Blocks

Drawing Designs on Wooden Hand Blocks

1- Special artistic skills are vital in rendering the right impression to the wooden hand block pattern.

wooden hand block pattern

2- Collection of sharp edge chisels and hammers are used in shaping the overall looks of the hand block patterns by local artisans and craftsmen.

hand block patterns by local artisans and craftsmen

3- Local wooden hand block maker chips away at the block surface with hammer and chisel to get the right block print pattern drawn on the wooden block by special pencil or marker.

wooden block by special pencil or marker

4- Carving designs by hand is done by constant chipping away at the solid wood block using hammer and chisel blade till shape is attained.

Hand block print patterns usually start / begin with the actual impression of the screen print design drawn on paper and then carved onto the rose wood (local name sheesham wooden block). The designs are painstakingly engraved or carved by hand onto the wooden blocks with approximate 18-25 cm of size in width and length.  The final hand block print design is used for single or double repeat stamps on rows of fabric till the entire stretch of fabric is covered in a uniform desired block print pattern.  Each color in the hand block print design is carved into a separate wooden block for ease of ministration and stamping on the fabric. Outline wooden blocks are the most detailed, intricate and are usually stamped first on the fabric and typically include outlines for floral or lattice type designs and patterns.  And then the fill in wooden block also considered as the background color block depending on the color scheme preferred and applied. Wooden hand block carving is in itself an art which requires years of apprenticeship and patience to achieve expert skills as the whole procedure is done entirely by hand.   

What Makes Hand Block Printing Highly Famous and Attractive?

1- Natural Colors and Dyes; with the prevalence of rich natural dyes and colors there is obvious options for the buyers to enjoy maximum choices and attractive attribute clothing and range of colors and shades.         

2- Variation in Unique Styles Design; it is also natural that with several styles and designs in hand block prints kurtis, kurtas, dresses and printed indo westerns the chance and opportunity to look elegant and polished is multiplied. This creates a diverse wardrobe rich in various items of clothing with multiple benefits of enhanced dress sense and appearance. 

3- Impressive Artisanry and Artistry; with uniqueness and specialness of these exceling artistic skills they bring to life several natural themes like plants, flowers, animals, humans, ethnic dress patterns, religious motifs and as many other types of abstract paintings and printings on the fabrics.  

4- Easy to Wear and Match; there are several types of incredibly appealing ethnic attires in amazing looks and designs that create splendid combinations in traditional dress combinations.

5- Ancient Skill; what is most exciting about this ancient skill and craft and make it famously attractive to most users of the crafts is it’s enduring passion and practice over the centuries till today.       

Why Block Prints are So Stylish and Fashionable?

It is almost impossible today to just pick one product ranging from block print kurtis, kurtas, dresses, suit sets, palazzos, tops and bottoms given the diversity and variety that is available which makes choice at times confusing or even hard. The primary reason is diversity of rich color themes, elegant looking motifs, enticing styles and enamoring designs which readily confer an empowered look on any stylish woman. Moreover, it is obvious that hand block prints are an eternal blessing for womenfolk as they esteem their ordinary wardrobes with classic looks and trendy print styles. They are also grand statements in ethnic haut couture for an informed and modern woman of substance rooted in her love and patronage of ethnic clothing and attires. It is almost obvious hand block prints are synonymous with tradition that has endured the ages through the impressive and laudable artisan skills and enterprise. As the progress of time unravels there are better and improved ways to usher in the latest and fastest variable hand block prints designs and styles.

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