Block Printing has been practiced all over India since the 12th century, when the craft flourished due to royal patronage. The earliest centers were found in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Traditionally, each region had its own particular aesthetic, including designs, and colour schemes. The commercialisation of the craft has led to a convergence in design elements between the various regions.
The Process - Carving the Block: To prepare the block, it is soaked in oil. Metal sheets are beaten until wafer thin and cut into strips of even length. The design is drawn onto wooden block and the metal strips are hammered onto the design.
Printing: The fabric requires a pre-printing treatment in which it is washed free of starch and lightly bleached. If dyeing is required it is done before printing. The fabric is then stretched over the printing table and fastened with small pins. The printer pushes along small wooden trolleys with racks that have wheels. On the upper most shelf are trays of dye, below which are the printing blocks. These blocks are then dipped in dye and imprinted onto the fabric by a skilled block printer from left to right. A point on the block serves as a guide for the repeat impression. This technique continues in layers if there are multiple colors to complete the design.
Finishing: Fabrics are left to dry. The fabric is wrapped in newspapers, to prevent the dye from adhering to other layers of the cloth, and steamed. The fabric is then washed thoroughly and ironed to fix the color.
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Adari Square Cushion
Hand block printed Indian square cushion