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On a recent buying trip to India, I had a chance to understand and see first hand, the art of Block Printing in India. I am fascinated by this craft as my next collection for fall/holiday 2016 will be “Inspired by India,” with the use of fabrics using the block making technique as a central theme.

Block printing is a form of dying and coloring a fabric using wooden blocks. India is one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of block printed fabric in the world. Block printing craftsmen use wooden or metal blocks to create beautiful designs; sometimes, linoleum blocks are also used.

Techniques of Block Printing in India

  • Direct Printing : In this technique, the cotton or silk cloth is first bleached. Then the fabric is dyed, unless a light background is desired. Thereafter, the fabric is printed using carved blocks, first the outline blocks, then the ones to fill color.
  • Resist Printing : In the resist technique, areas that are to be protected from the dye are covered with a mixture of clay and resin. The dyed fabric is then washed. The dye spreads into the protected areas through cracks, producing a rippled effect. Block prints are then used to create further designs.
  • Discharge Printing : In this technique, the fabric is dyed. Then, a chemical is used to remove the dye from the portions that are to have designs in a different color. These portions are then treated, so they may be re-colored.

Centers of Block Printing in India include Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh. The two major centers of Kalamkari art are Sri Kalahasti and Masulipatnam.

Enjoy the pics of the process as documented in Jaipur, India.