Hand Block Printing


Twinkling stars in an evening sky, dense tropical forests with color and gaiety, simple minimalist repetitive patterns of abstract imagery all of this and much more is the visual result of surfacial embellishment on fabric known as block printing.
The variety of printed textiles is immensely wide and designs keep getting innovative and change according to market requirements, fashion trends, and influences of variegated forms of design being generated the world over. Todays artisan is conscious of market requirements and the kind of client he has to service. Block printed patterns are a series of bold, open ended designs with exciting color combinations and also intensely detailed work suffice to say the block printers of Gujarat have an entire range of repertoire for the perusal of a prospective client and are willing to experiment, innovate and change if need be.
There are three main techniques in the making of a block printed fabric, direct printing where the dye is applied directly on the fabric with the block, resist printing which as the name suggests the process uses wax or lime to resist the dye and Discharge printing which uses repulsing material to open up areas on the dyed fabric wherever the block is applied. Over the years block printing has been exposed to a variety of techniques and dyes ranging from the natural to the chemical. Natural dyes and their mordants such as alum form quite an earthy palette of deep subdued shades in reds, greens, yellows, browns and the like and the ubiquitous Indigo. A wide range of colors are available in chemical printing and dyeing, varied range of shades and tints of a single color is created by the dyers.
Traditional Trivia The state of Gujarat along with Sindh and neighboring state Rajasthan are the oldest block printing centers in the world. With the discovery of a terracotta block at the Indus valley site, block printing is the oldest beautification technique used in fabric. Such was the local and later through trade foreign demand for block printed and dyed textiles that samples have been found in Egyptian tombs, fourteenth century Fostat collection and fortunes in Europe were made and broken over this trade.
Each community in Gujarat has its own motifs and patterns on their traditional textiles which enmeshed with the jewelry, home embellishment and living style and therefore was a mark of recognition. Every community had their own distinct colors, and motifs identifying not only their origins but also their status within the community. It is interesting that the Khatri community of traditional dyers and printers are almost oral historians as they were commissioned to make fabrics by various communities for different occasions.