Hand block printing is the traditional technique of India. It has been practiced for centuries. This fabric printing technique involves use of dyed and craved blocks of wooden. Beautiful patterns created on fabric by pressing those wooden blocks on it. Only single colour is used in the block printing. Bagru, Rajasthan, is the key hub of hand block printing.
Block carving – The block carvers and dyers are mainly of chhipa cast of Rajasthan, India. It is the first step of block printing. It is an ancestral skill which passed down from generation to generation. Small hammers, chisels and drills are used for carving patterns into wooden blocks.
Block dying – The blocks are place into mustard oil and leaved for at least 7 days to rest. Because of this the blocks will not crack while drying. The carvers make holes into the wooden for extend their life.
Colour paste application – On the surface of wooden block colour paste is applied after the carving of it. It is done with the help of ‘sieve’. This paste is made of wheat grain powder, black earth soil and tree gum. The wooden block being pressed onto the fabric but before this it patted gently onto the paste.
Treatment of Fabric – To remove all the starch the fabric is first washed and go through soft bleaching to remove the occurrence of natural grey, Dying is require for saree lengths fabric. This is done before the process of printing. The fabric will lay by the craftsman on a printing table and fix it by tiny pins.
Printing – Printing is special technique and it is necessary to follow this in order. It always starts from left to right. The block is dipped in dark colour and applied on the fabric by the craftsman. A beautiful impression achieve with the forceful action using clenched hand on the handle’s back. This is done again and again along the length and breadth of the material.
Final touch – After the printing process the craftsman sprinkle some saw dust onto fabric. It prevents the spots of design and also helps in seal the printed designs. Then the fabric is left out in the sun to dry. For block printing different dyes are used on cotton and silk fabrics. Some common dyes are rapid dyes, indigo sol and pigment dyes. Most of the colours which used for block printing are black, brown, orange, mustard and red.