It seems that hand block printing has been around for thousands of years, but I don’t remember my mother wearing hand-block printed sarees at all! Hand block printing clothes are a ‘must have’ for some but when exactly did this phenomenon begin? To be honest, the dates aren’t very clear. Infact, I was unaware of anyone even talking about their love for hand block prints, forget wearing one, when I was in school…then, fast forward to my university days (read a couple of decades back!) and then, suddenly, handmade, hand block printing were becoming huge part of our lives. What was the catalyst? What bought about this change? Do we know? I would love to…
What we know about Handblock Printing
- Ancient Art Form
- Printed fabric created using blocks
- Blocks made of wood, linoleum or rubber (though traditionally was always wood)
- Artisans carve by their own hands, the design needed on the wood (this process alone could take several days to complete)
- Sometimes, coppering is used to introduce fine details into the block, using strips of brass or even copper, as, it would be very hard to incorporate the very fine details using just wood
- Then, the block is treated with oil, that allows it to hold colour
- This coloured block is pressed on the cloth, hit hard with a mallet to create the print and repeated to get the colour significantly darker
and voila! your hand block printed fabric is ready! Want to try your hand at this? If:
- Living in India: You could attend a workshop in the very hub of handblock printing – Bagru, near Jaipur at Jaitexart. If you’re in Bangalore, do keep an eye out for the workshops at Tharingini , Opposite Sadshivnagar Police Station. Read more about them here. I would also recommend you to keep an eye out on the workshops conducted by DAMA in Hyderabad and Sanskriti Museums, in New Delhi. Alternatively, you could speak to a designer (who works with hand block artists) and, who in turn will be using artisans for this process. Ask them to run a workshop directly with the artisan. I assure you, it will be a heavenly experience
- Living outside India: Get in touch with Ritchie Ace Camps and they will organise a workshop for you in India. Read about it right here
People who help spread hand block printing across the globe
Did you know that William Morris, the very famous textile designer from the UK, has been known to use it too in his works, even for decorating the walls of St. James’ Palace? Read more about his fascinating work, right here.
Did you know that the creative mind behind our all time favourite Anokhi, Brigitte Singh, was born in France, came to study fine art in Jaipur and never left. She fell in love with her mentor’s son, set up home and made this hand block art form even more famous and desired by all. Read all about her studio in Rajasthan, the work that happens there, in this beautiful post by Sussie Bubble, right here.
And now, let’s have a look, closer to home at some more champions of hand block printing:
Chhapa, is determined to rejuvenate the art of hand block printing and deliver environment friendly as well as socially responsible fashion. They design and bring to life amazing quirky styles. Being kind to the environment, helping an artisan earn a living by practising this art form is important to this team.
We love Chhapa’s prints and the fact that their pieces don’t cost an absolute arm and a leg! They are handmade, affordable, stylish and extremely comfortable…what’s not to like? Have a peep:
- Call: +91 99096 58888
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.chhapa.in/
We came across Poochki (named after the founders’ pet manx cat) when they participated in the Dastkar Design Fair a couple of years back and since then, we have continued to love them and now, own a few pieces of our own. Poochki essentially makes clothes to celebrate the wide array of Indian textiles, with their unique hand block prints, inspired by the urban flora and fauna.
Their Master Craftsman Shree Arshad Kafeel from Pilkhwa has been a part of the team for creating unusual block prints, inspired by fauna. Have a peep at what they are up to now:
- Store : 143 – B Shahpur Jat (near DDA market), New Delhi; Opening times: 11:30 AM – 7:00 PM, Mon-Sat
- Call: +919582460500
- Email: email@example.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/poochki
Before I sign off, I must remind you about a post we did on another kind of hand block printing; about Bagru and Sanganer . Do have a read, if you like, right here and fall more in love with hand block printing.
Buy and support the existence of hand block printing! Support designers, who in turn support and help the artisans…Be Notjustashopper!