Block Printing is an ancient and traditional art form of printing on fabric, paper, and other materials originated in India many years ago using vegetable dyes and natural colors. Jaipur the Pink city of India, capital of Rajasthan was founded by Jai Singh II and is one of the earliest planned cities of modern India designed by Vidyadhar Bhattacharya. Jaipur, other than its beauty and traditional culture is also famous for Block Printing Art. Block Printing in India in other forms is widely known as “Woodblock Printing”, “Woodcut Printing” or “Hand block Printing”. The block printing art is done by following a beautiful process where the required designs are carved on the blocks and natural dyes are used for printing on fabrics.
HISTORY OF BLOCK PRINTING
The traditional art of Block Printing is being practiced in Rajasthan, India for more than 500 years. Block Printing was started in the 12th century and the rich art form of printing on fabrics was being enjoyed by the Kings and Queens which made Block Printing art recognizable as royal patronage from that time. Block printing on fabrics was introduced by the old Chippa Community located in the Bagru district of Rajasthan.
The block printing art on fabric has been passed down to generations introducing various printing forms like Bagru printing, Sanganeri printing, Kalamkari block printing, Ajrakh printing, and Dabu printing. Sanganer and Bagru in Rajasthan are the major hubs of Block printing in India while block printing in Jaipur has a huge unorganized textile market including Block Print Quilts, Kurtis, Shirts, Bedsheets, Scarfs, etc.
BLOCK PRINTING PROCESS
Block printing is a simple and manual process, yet time-consuming. The wooden blocks are carved according to the design required and dipped into the natural or vegetable dyes and colors and then pressed on the cloth for the printing on fabric. While the block printing process needs the practice to master but the simple procedure is as follows:
Firstly, a design is drawn on the paper which is going to be carved on the wooden block. These designs can be inspired by Sanganeri prints, Mughal prints, motifs, etc. After the design drawing, the design is traced and carved on the wooden blocks by hand. The block craving is done separately for individual color.
E.g. If two colors i.e. ‘yellow’ and ‘red’ are being used in the design, then woodblock carving is done on two individual blocks for different colors. The woodblock carving is done carefully and requires years of experience and apprenticeship to gain mastery, leaving behind the required design carved beautifully.
PRE-WASHING AND FABRIC DYEING:
The local artisans’ pre-washes and dyes the fabric. We at Lushfab Jaipur also practice pre-washing of the cloth or fabric before the block printing process which makes the block printing art more eye-catching and beautiful. Pre-washing the fabric also ensures the woodblock printing gives a natural and clean look to the block printing designs which will be carved on the fabric.
PREPARATION OF NATURAL AND VEGETABLE DYES – COLOR MIXING:
Once the block is carved the master prepares the dyes and colors for printing on fabric by mixing three to four colors together. The colors prepared are then kept inside a small wooden tray and the blocks need to be dipped in the color each time before printing on the fabric.THE PRINTING PROCESS:
The fabric is dyed and is spread over the printing table, tucked in by all pins properly to prevent any misprinting. The carved wooden blocks of the designs are dipped into the dyes or colors and stamped on the fabric with a force of hand. The process takes time and energy as each color block is stamped individually on the fabric which brings out the best of woodblock printing or block printing art.
Printing on the fabric is done carefully by keeping the designs in alignment and following the same alignment throughout the process for the clean and artistic look. This block printing process creates artistic traditional designs with hard-work and dedication of the artisans and this printed fabric can be used to create block print products.
WASHING AND DRYING:
After the block printing process, once the dye has dried, the fabric is washed in the local water bodies or washing tanks in the manufacturing units. The block print design is hanged to dry in the sun through the natural process by reducing the carbon footprint and making it sustainable.BLOCK PRINTING IN JAIPUR:
Block printing is a traditional art that is being followed from years and Block printing in Jaipur has further gained recognition. The designs and art forms that originated from block printing are considered the most popular and best all over the world. These traditional block printing designs are made by artisan's hard-work and energy and add a cultural and trendy vibe. Also, there are various sub art forms of block printing which are Bagru printing, Ajrakh printing, Kalamkari Block printing, Dabu printing and Sanganeri prints which have gained popularity over the years and are widely used in manufacturing various kinds of textile products.
Sanganer near Jaipur is a textile and export hub of block print fabrics and block printed design products in all over the world. In addition to the normal designs, the traditional block print designs include designs of small flowers, various bootis, motifs, Mughal designs like elephants, luxuriant flowers, etc. from ancient times which are very popular in India.
Thus, Block printing needs proper artwork, experience, and knowledge of the artisans to create a wonderful and artistic piece of block printing designs and sustainable manufacturing practices to support the artisans and ensuring sustainability.