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Top 5 Block Prints that You Must Have in Your Wardrobe

block prints fabric

What are Block Prints?

Block printing is a printing method that involves pressing and stamping fabric with coloured, carved wooden blocks. Other names for block printing include “hand blocked” and “hand block printing”. To get beautiful block prints, a block must be carefully carved, which is a time-consuming process, but once done, it can be used to print many impressions.

It is the most labour-intensive method of textile printing. Block printing by hand requires patience. But it can also provide extremely artistic outcomes, some of which are impossible to achieve through other means. Yet block printing involves more than just pressing blocks onto fabric. Each wooden block must be carved, then the fabric must be ready, the dyes mixed, and the finishing touches applied. Each block printing method demands patience, talent, and artistic ability. The culmination of these tasks results in our exquisite block-printed fabrics.

Block prints on fabrics are used to create a variety of clothing items, including saris, kurtas, shirts, salwar kameez, dupattas, and skirts. Because of its durability and distinctive patterns and designs, block-printed clothing has witnessed a sharp rise in demand recently, particularly in western countries.

The craftsmanship of Block Prints

The most common types of wood used to make wooden blocks for textile printing are box, lime, holly, sycamore, plane, and pear. The grain of each alternate piece runs in a different direction, and a number of pieces or blocks are tongued and grooved to fit each other before being securely cemented together under pressure into one solid block. The pattern is then drawn on or transferred to the block, which has been planned to be extremely smooth and flat.

With wood, fine features are particularly challenging to carve, and even when they are, they degrade quickly or come off during printing. As a result, they are usually constructed from strips of brass or copper that have been bent into shape and inserted edgewise into the flat surface of the block. This process, known as coppering, allows for the printing of several delicate small forms that would otherwise be very difficult to create using either hand or machine block printing, such as stars, rosettes, and fine spots. The wood must not warp since carved blocks absorb moisture during the printing process. The blocks are left in trays of mustard oil for a few days to prevent warping. Over several further days of cure, they drip over piles of cloth.

In the past, natural dyes were used to create the colours for woodblock printing; today, synthetic dyes and artificial colours are used instead. Saffron, yellow, blue, and red are the most frequently used hues.

Best 5 Block Prints for Your Wardrobe 

Block printing has a long history in India dating back to ancient times. Many states in our nation developed their own block printing method alongside exceptional craftsmanship. The top five block printing patterns on fabric that we think you absolutely must maintain in your wardrobe have been chosen by us!

1. Dupatta with Bagru-style Printing

Kurta / Kurti with Ajrakh-style Printing
Image Source: Farida Gupta

Bagru is a traditional block printing process practised in Rajasthan. These prints are created using hand-carved wooden blocks and natural dyes. They are more well-known due to their remarkable eco-friendliness. A Bagru block-printed dupatta is the ideal daytime garment since it combines comfort and culture.

2. Kurta / Kurti with Ajrakh-style Printing

Dupatta with Bagru-style Printing
Image Source: itokri

It was created in Kutch and is being practised today by Sikhs and the Kutchi Khatri people. The indigenous vegetable colouring known as Ajrakh defies block-printing methods on fabric. The unique quality of Ajrakh is that it is block-printed with identical impressions on both sides of the fabric, making it reversible with the same level of print depth and colour on both sides. Due to the requirement for a flawless pattern match on both sides, it takes significant expertise and patience. This piece of clothing is ideal for any situation, formal or casual.

3. Skirt with Kalamkari Printing

Skirt with Kalamkari Printing
Image Source: Tjori

The oldest and most intricate form of block printing is Kalamkari, which has its roots in Andhra Pradesh. Displaying a variety of hand-block printed designs that were influenced by old-style kalamkari paintings. The blocks used in this complex process were made by specialised craftspeople—the best ethnic purchase that your wardrobe needs.

Also read: Kalamkari Painting: Scroll Narratives and Block-Prints

4. Saree with Sanganeri Printing

Saree with Sanganeri Printing
Image Source: Gaatha Shop

Another block print from Rajasthan, Sanganeri is a hand-block printing method that was developed in Sanganer, a village south of Jaipur. Only traditional dyes produced from nature, such as using insects to obtain the red and purple colours, are used for these prints because Sanganeri printmaking focuses primarily on motifs from nature. A Saree with such designs of motifs is a perfect fit for everyday use or a special event outing. 

5. Scarf with Bagh Printing

Scarf with Bagh Printing
Image Source: itokri

The town of Bagh in Madhya Pradesh is known for its traditional hand block printing using natural colours. The use of black and red in alternation over a white background creates dramatic layouts in Bagh printing. The prints nonetheless have a modern charm despite using ancient techniques and motifs – best suitable for him and her.

Concluding Remarks

Hand-printed materials continue to have a secure place in society today. Books and texts were frequently printed using block printing. The earliest block-printed text was most likely created in China around 200 AD. Today, however, the exquisite technique of block printing is primarily linked with carving out designs and printing them on cloth. A single fabric can be printed using multiple blocks, and this fabric can be used in our everyday lives. India is currently without a doubt the biggest supplier of textiles with block prints.

Indian hand-painted fabrics are unparalleled in design and beauty. Download the Rooftop App from GooglePlay or AppStore to learn more about India’s textile art forms!

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