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The Handloom industry in India has always been one of the world's most sought-after industries for centuries. It is due to its richness in design, color, and quality. Indian designs are uniquely styled with beautiful vibrant colors on fabrics that are of excellent quality, making it popular worldwide. One such popular Indian design that is steadily growing in its popularity is the Indian Block printing design.
In a lay man's term, block-printing is a method where blocks of wood, linoleum, rubber, or metal are used to paint designs on various fabrics. These blocks are first craved with beautiful designs that are then dipped in different paints, based on the design's requirement. These are then used on different types of fabric to imprint the designs on them from these blocks.
As mentioned earlier, Block Printing has been part of the Indian handloom industry for thousands of years. There has been evidence of its existence in India since the times of the Indus Valley Civilization in 3000 BCE, which is also during the times of Mohanjodaro. Even though around the 12th century this craft of Block Printing flourished under various rajas, it only gained popularity during the 17th.
Well, the art of Block Printing isn’t as simple as it may seem. It requires not only skill and experience but also patience and dedication. It’s a time-consuming task that requires perseverance. The Blocks on which the designs are carved have to have a minimum of two to three cylindrical holes in it allow air passage and excess dye. This helps in avoiding the air bubble and smudging on the designs while being printed, allowing a better finish.
The material on which this Block Printing is to be applied is secured on a table of rectangular shape, which has twenty-four layers of taut jute acting as a pad of resilience to provide a better result.
· Direct Printing- This is a technique where the bedsheet fabric is first bleached and then dyed unless one requires a background of a lighter shade. After that, carved blocks are used to create the outline of the design with the outline blocks, and then the blocks to fill colorare used on the fabric to be printed.
· Resist Printing- This is a technique wherea mixture of clay and resin is used to cover the area that doesn’t need to be dyed or colored. The dye is applied to the fabric of the bedsheet, and then it’s washed. After which the mixture of clay and resin is removed, getting the final product of fabric in its design.
· Discharge Printing- This is a technique where the fabric is first dyed. After that, with the assistance of a chemical, the dye is removed from the sections that are to have different designs on it in different colored dye. These areas are then treated so that they can be re-colored with different designs.
Across India, there are many communities that specialize in Block Printing and have their unique style of design and pattern.
Gujarat- It has a few places where there are some individual styles. The Paithapur families practice the style known as Sodagiri (trader) prints, and the Ajrakh, which is a form of geometric design, is a specialty of the Dhamadka village Gujarat. Designs of animals, birds, and dancing girls are available in Kutch, whereas, in Baroda and Ahmadabad, you will get to see large designs of mango.
Rajasthan-InRajasthan, Jaipur, Bagru (Syahi-Begar and Dabu prints), Sanganer (Calico and Doo Rookhi print), Pali and Barmer (Sikar and Shekahawat prints are well known for its block printing designs.
West Bengal -Block Printing wasn’t originally available in West Bengal, but since its introduction, in the early twentieth century, West Bengal has not only flourished in the traditional designs but also created its own unique style. Serampore is considered to be the center of Block Printing in Bengal.
Andhra Pradesh- Kalamkari Painting is the specialty of Andhra Pradesh, which is a combination of hand and block printing. The name itself suggests that it’s an artwork created with the assistance of a Pen.
· Even though Block Printing is a technique that requires skill and dedication, once you have reached a certain level of expertise, it becomes a task of ease and can be easily achieved.
· The blocks that help create the designs on the fabrics provide a certain level of accuracy and fineness, which leads to a finished product with minimum goof-ups and maximum sharpness, attracting the eye of the consumer.
· Using the method of Block Printing has made way to create a variety of designs on a single piece of fabric with different colors and patterns without much trouble. The possibilities of creating a mix and match style of design are countless. This creates designs and patterns of vibrant colors that add a certain freshness to all of it.
· Building a new designer block is not that difficult. It can be made very quickly and easily without much trouble. Even complicated and intricate designs can be easily carved on these wooden blocks without much ado. One can also create unique designs as and when they desire without having to follow any generic pattern of style or design.
· Even though there are other materials used to build these blocks, the wood is the primary material that's used to build these blocks as they are extremely durable and also maneuverable thus, the blocks are long-lasting.
· The blocks that are used to create the designs have a point on it that helps keep the design aligned while creating a repeated design on a piece of fabric. This maintains uniformity and doesn't make it look haphazard or unorganized.
· Various items can also be used to create Block Printing bed sheet designs such as hairbrush, spoon, ladyfinger, stencils, leaves, etc. All you need is a creative attitude, and one can conduct DYI projects at home as well.
Apart from other block-printed fabrics, bedsheets too have become a favourite among those who like unique bedsheets for their bedrooms. These look good, make you feel good and brightens up the vibe of the entire bedroom.