Trend Alert: Block Prints in Home Textiles

Block prints on Home Textiles are popular as Indian specialties around the globe. Block printing has brought ethnic print and patterns on dyed fabric to many-a homes. The most common technique is woodblock printing.

Woodblock printing, as the name suggests includes the use of incised wood to create patterns on fabric. It holds an archaic old-world charm to it, because it happens to be a very simple and slow method of printing on cloth. Mostly, in India, until today it is still done by hand, which is presumably why it is also very unique and a popular favorite of homes world over.

Process behind Block Prints in Home Textiles

The block: Woodblock is made generally out of sycamore, plane or pear wood. The block of wood starts off as being plain, flat and smooth, after which the design is drawn on it. The parts which need not be carved out are left tinted with a colour for the blockcutter to understand which parts need carving. At the end if the cut, the block looks like a letterpress – but with the pattern standing out.

However, finer details in the pattern wear off easily on the wood, due to which coppering has to be incorporated – a technique that uses strips of brass and copper built in edgewise into the surface of the block to give the delicate designs more definition.





The printing: The cloth is laid out and marked with areas where the prints are to be placed. The block is first pressed onto the sieve with colour and then firmly pressed on to the cloth. Once on the cloth it is struck on the back with a wooden mallet to ensure clarity. As the printer moves around the rest of the cloth, there are pins placed demarcating the exact spots – in order to hold precision and symmetry. If there is more than one colour used in the printing, the stamping is carried out one colour at a time.

But, lately, a new technique is being used to apply many colours at one time, called Tobying. This includes the special creation of a block with the whole pattern cut up on it – a special sieve is constructed so that the block can pick up the right colours on the right parts of the block. The entire block is then stamped on to the cloth. Tobying allows 2 – 6 colours to be printed in one go.




Block Prints on Home Textiles

Having learnt about the goings on behind the scenes, let’s take a moment to appreciate the final product that is created after all the hardwork. Here’s how Indian block prints have fused themselves beautifully into home textiles.










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