Do You Know About The Block Printing Technique In India?

Wooden Block Making Masterclass Workshop with Rajasthan Studio

An Introduction to Block Printing in India

If you are a lover of traditional art, beautiful colour patterns and designs, block printing is right up your radar! The method of block printing is very traditional and goes back all the way to 220 AD. Though it originated in China, it is equally as conventional in India- particularly in the state of Rajasthan. 

In India, wood has always been carved with intricate details for adorning and decorative purposes. Since the 10th century artisans use wood carving for the block printing purposes. The conventional way of block printing involves the use of the woodblocks and is a complete manual task. Firstly , the artisans transfer the conceptualized design onto the piece of wood using tools such as chisels, small hammers and drills.

The Process of Block Printing

Artisans pan out the desired design on paper first. This is a stencil for the wooden block carving. Post replicating the design on the piece of wood, they carve the block and soak in the mustard oil for a week at minimum. This soaking proofs the wooden block and prevents it from cracking during dry weather. Authentic Jaipuri blocks are made on Indian Teak wood or Sheesham wood. 

Each block has a wooden handle and two to three cylindrical holes drilled into the block for free air passage and also to allow release of excess printing paste. These blocks sometimes may even have metal over the wood. The artists are careful about selecting the cloth to inscribe the print . The artisans finally dip the blocks into the dyes and press it onto the crease-less cloth. While block printed cloths were traditionally only available in indigo, green and mustard yellow. Today, the artist use of more than 3 colours. The diversified designs and the customization which is possible in this method bring out extremely unique and unmatched combinations. 

Block Printing on a fabric. Image Source : South London Gallery

Playing With Patterns – Wooden Block Making With Gayyur Ahmed

Does the intricate detailing always carves a place in your? Did you ever desire to learn the prints that beautify your fabric? You surely don’t need to be an artist! Flabbergasted? Check out the Masterclass Workshop with Rajasthan Studio. Let’s learn the art of making wooden block and print the design! Time to get trained from the artist who is adept at it Great news! Fulfill your desire by just clicking below.

What is a Masterclass Workshop?

Rajasthan Studio has specially curated personalized Masterclass Workshops. This ensures the privilege of one to one learning from the expert artists. We only take limited seats in each workshop. Not only you can understand the art technique vividly but also practically do it along. Take back best of the learnt skills and art pieces.

A glimpse of the workshop.

The Blocks From Jaipur

The specialty of the blocks from Jaipur is the depth and intricacy of the carving, which allows for a cleaner surface and clearer printing. Also peculiar to Jaipuri blocks is the number of air pockets (pavansar) drilled through the blocks to ensure circulation of air in the block during the printing thus preventing the fabric from lifting when the block is raised. Due to its innate strength, blocks made of Sheesham may last through 200 metres of printing. Therefore, the use of Sheesham for outlining or making Rekh or key blocks. Cost effective woods like Roheda and Bhujan are gradually replacing costly teak wood. The carved Rekh or outline block includes the minute details of the pattern including the veins of the leaves and the individual petals. 

Bagru, a village straddling the highway to Jaipur, is where you can find Chippas – the caste of printers who are known to stamp lengths of cotton fabric with colour using these wooden blocks. This trade is legendary and gift to succeeding generations. Chiefly, the artist have exceptional expertise in the craft.

Wooden blocks made by Master Artist Gayyur Ahmed Ji , Image Source : Rajasthan Studio

To conclude:

The tradition of making handmade objects has always been a staple to Rajasthan. Floral or geometric designs predominate wood carving in Rajasthan. The craft clusters that specialize in making blocks from block printing follow a specific procedure from start to finish. Block prints are done by eye, and telltale signs of the human hand, even imperfections, are part of the ineffable humanity and beauty of the craft. But screen prints are now replacing them. As a consequence, the transfer of skill from one generation to the next is no longer a tradition as the artisans no longer perceive this work as monetarily gratifying. 

Block Printing on Fabric, Image Source :

Follow Rajasthan Studio on Instagram for more amazing art content. Reach out to us on email at contact[at]rajasthanstudio[dot]com. This blog is curated by Rajasthan Studio and written by Samira sarin.

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