‘One of the recent trends in hand block printing is the indigo process, traditionally called daabu.’
What are the latest trends in hand block printing?
From bed sheets to canopied lamp shades, everything contemporary has a touch of hand block printing. This technique has influenced several industries and become a trend. Innovations do not only pertain to design. They are also about a change in technology.
Hand block printing has blossomed in the culture of almost all Indian states. It is practiced in Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and many other parts of the country. One of the major challenges artisans face is that buyers complain about variations in pattern and colour, which they mistake to be defects. Artisans try to convey that such variations are characteristics of hand block printing. In fact, such variations enhance the artistic value of these products. Nevertheless, there should be a standard set for what is acceptable and what falls under the purview of defects.
When screen printing was introduced, the hand block printing industry went into a slump. Now, people know the differences between block and screen printing. So, both industries are prospering simultaneously. Today, block printing has an edge over screen printing because it is more eco-friendly. Most printers use vegetable dyes, free of chemicals. Latest applications of hand block printing include printing on rugs and on thick fabric generally used in cushion covers.
One of the recent trends in hand block printing is the indigo process, traditionally called daabu. Distinctive blue dyes are extracted from the indigo plant. The process is completely natural and organic with no chemicals, making it popular. The printer dips the block into a mud paste and applies it firmly and steadily on the cloth. The cloth is dusted with sand and dried in sunlight. After the paste dries, the cloth is dipped into indigo dye. The dyed cloth is washed to remove traces of mud paste. The original resisted areas show up in white. Block printing by hand is a slow process. However, it is capable of yielding highly artistic results. It is not just printing, it is an art.
Hand block printing fits very well into Indian and western cultures. From ethnic salwar suits to trendy tops, block prints can be found on a range of apparel. The global appeal of this method is due to its chic sophistication. Furthermore, it is easy to maintain. Rajasthan holds the major stake in the Rs 700 crore national export market for block prints. Most exports are to the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Italy and Spain.
The future of block printing looks impressive. However, both block and screen printing have reached a point where something new is needed. It is time to move on to more customised products where customers can get involved in the designing of prints and impressions. Engraving could be an answer, allowing users to customise utilities.
Published on: 29/04/2016
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.