Designer wooden hand-block products have been gaining popularity recently due to their
unique and intricate designs. These products are made using a traditional printing technique
known as hand block printing, which involves hand-carving wooden blocks and using them
to stamp designs onto fabrics or other materials. The resulting products are one-of-a-kind
pieces that are both functional and beautiful.
One of the main appeals of hand-block printed products is their unique designs. Unlike
machine-printed products, each hand-block printed product is slightly different due to the
human touch involved in the printing process. This results in products with subtle variations
that give them a handcrafted, authentic feel.
Another advantage of hand-block printed products is their durability. Unlike printed products
that may fade or peel over time, hand block printing is a long-lasting technique that results in
products that maintain their vibrancy and beauty for years to come.
Designer wooden hand-block products are not only beautiful but also environmentally
friendly. The process of hand block printing is a sustainable method that does not require the
use of harmful chemicals or machinery. Additionally, the wooden blocks used in the process
can be reused, reducing waste and helping to protect the environment.
Indian hand blocks hold an important place in the heart of their culture. The age-old art of
dyeing and coloured the fabric with wood blocks was refined over time. The block prints are
diverse; whether it's Rajasthan's famous Dabu printing, which employs the technique of
printing with mud and Gujarat's Ajrakh, which features geometric patterns, every block print
represents the nation's vast history and rich culture. India is, in fact, one of the biggest
exporters and manufacturers of printed fabrics. Vogue interviewed three of the most
renowned fashion brands- Good Earth, Fabindia and Punit Balana--who provide insight into
the development of this labour-intensive art and how it's evolving in the present.
The background of Modern Designer Hand-Block Products
The oldest evidence in the field of Indian blocks printed cotton pieces were discovered at
several sites in Egypt and Fustat in the vicinity of Cairo," says by the chief of the department
of products Fabindia. The documented history of block-printed textiles dates back to the
Indus Valley civilization around 3500-1300 BC. From the Harappan period to the present, the
export of textiles, mainly cotton, is proven. The Mohenjo-Daro excavations needles,
spindles, and cotton fibres dyed with Madder (a colour or red dye extracted from the plant's
roots) were discovered.
Also, some believe that it was only under Mughal patronage that block printing flourished in
India. "The Mughals introduced the intricate floral designs that are commonly used in
hand-block printed textiles of Rajasthan," she says. As per designer Punit Balana, the process of printing and dyeing cotton fabrics originated in Rajasthan but was later adopted
by Gujarat. The art of printing and dyeing is used across several states, including Andhra
Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, and the
The most well-known centres in Rajasthan are cities like Jaipur, Bagru, Sanganer, Pali and
Barmer, and the state is famous for its vivid prints of goddesses, gods, birds, animals and
humans. The city of Bagru is known because of the Syahi Begar and Dabu prints (available
in black and yellow and made using resist printing). Sanganer is famous for its Calico prints
(recognized by their dual-colour prints repeated in the diagonal row) and Doo-Rookhi prints
(printed on both sides of the same fabric). Barmer is famous as a print of chilli red and trees
with an outline of blue and black, while Sikar and Shekhawat prints are adorned with themes
of horses, camels, Peacocks, lions, and camels.
In Gujarat, the most famous places include Dhamadka, Kutch, Bhavnagar, Vasna, Rajkot,
Jamnagar, Jetpur and Porbandar. Ajrakh prints originated in the Dhamadka village and have
geometric patterns made from natural colours. The most well-known Kutch designs come in
black and red patterns of women, animals and birds.
Chhimba, a community in Punjab that is a community of textile workers, utilizes print to
depict geometric and floral designs with pastel shades. The West Bengal region of
Serampore is famous for its vivid patterns in the block prints they make.
Unleashing the Creative Potential by using Wooden
Block printing is laborious. The blocks take about ten days to get perfected. The process
begins with a piece of fabric that has been initially washed to remove starch. If tie-dyeing is
required, it's completed in this step, or if the fabric has already been dyed, it's cleaned to
eliminate excess colour. After that, it's dried under the sunlight. The next step involves
placing the fabric on the table to print.
The blocks are constructed from woods like teak, sycamore and pears. They are made by
hand into a variety of intricate designs. They are initially created with chalk paste or pencil
and paper. Following this, the blocks are submerged in oil for about ten days to soften and
soften the wood.
Once the blocks are made when they are ready, they are then dipped in colour and then
pressed onto the fabric. The process is repeated every time till the entire length of fabric is
finished. Artisans make demands of precision to ensure that there aren't any design gaps.
Different blocks are employed if the design has multiple colours and the artist patiently waits
for the first print to dry before the second.
The fabric is left for drying in the sun and then wrapped in newspaper to keep them from
adhering to each other. After printing, they are steam-dried, rinsed with water and dry in the
sun before being ironed.
There are three main methods of printing on blocks in India (H3)
Direct printing involves the fabric being first bleached, followed by dyeing and printing with
carved blocks (first with the outline block before moving to blocks to add colour). Resist
printing requires certain areas of the fabric to be shielded from the dye. The use of resin and
clay protects them. The fabric that has been dyed is cleaned. However, the dye gets spread
through protected areas, creating ripples. Then, additional use of blocks can be used to
create desired designs. In contrast, the final method of discharge printing is the chemical
used to remove parts of the dyed fabric filled with various colours.
Why is block printing distinctive?
The labour-intensive process that is block printing sure to grab your interest. "From the
wood-carving process to transfer an impression on the fabric, The human hand makes the
tiny imperfections and variations that are so beautiful that they are unique to this method,"
says Fab India. "Also, it's an incredibly versatile and environmentally sustainable method
that lends itself to small bespoke development and large-scale productions."
Balana believes in the quality of handmade clothes. "In the age of everything is controlled by
machines which make mass manufacturing commonplace, this is an environmentally friendly
method of handcrafted. The way it is adapted to modern silhouettes helps to revive the art
design," he explains.
Good Earth's focus is on the fineness of the art shape. Deepshikha Khanna, head of the
development of products (apparel) of Sustain, Good Earth, says they work together with
master artisans to ensure the quality and accuracy of the designs.
Are block prints modernized today?
Creating a modern aesthetic is a common goal for all three labels. Silhouettes such as
trench coats, crop tops with wraparound skirts and saris with peplum jackets are adorned
with contemporary abstract prints in various colours, including blue and white. We also have
incorporated natural organic dyes, colours and environmentally friendly methods.
Fabindia has been using traditional hand-block printing groups since the 1980s. In the case
of Good Earth, block printing has been an integral component of their process since the
beginning of their journey. With ivory as the main backdrop for printing, we guarantee each
design is created according to the artist's vision by combining handmade work and vivid
colours. The length of time and attention paid by skilled craftsmen makes each product
unique and a sought-after collector's item for the years to come.
In conclusion, designer wooden hand-block products are a unique and stylish choice for
anyone looking to add elegance and authenticity to their home or wardrobe. With their
intricate designs, durability, and eco-friendliness, these products will become a cherished
part of your collection.