A print studio at home!

Last Updated 29 September 2011, 14:50 IST

All the traditional printing blocks shown here were bought on the footpath on M G Road! So we’re not talking about expensive ‘equipment’. Another place that sells finely made blocks is Anokhi, a fabric and garment store that promotes traditional crafts and printing techniques (it is in ‘Raintree’, an old house on Raj Bhavan Road).

 If you want to work only on paper, get yourself some plain white paper or Navneet’s coloured sheets to make ‘Thank You’ cards or gift cards. A box of fabric paint and a medium-sized brush will be fine. Use the brush to paint onto the block (make sure there’s hardly any water), and quickly, before it starts to dry, press the block, face down, onto the paper that you have  kept ready. Try this out on rough paper first, till you get a steady hand and figure out just how much paint on the block is ‘enough’.

A set of 10 sheets of letter paper would make a great gift to grand moms (they are the only ones who still write, rather than e-mail us). You can also cut up and print a lot of thank-you and gift cards, and keep them in a drawer that all the family can use, when needed.

 If you want to use your blocks on fabric, get a box of fabric paint. In this case, dab more paint onto the block before printing…and also, let the paint be more moist, than when you worked on paper.

My advice would be, get comfortable working on paper, before moving to fabric because you can’t crush up and throw away a napkin or mat that you mess up!

 Have fun… old napkins get a great new life, with fresh block prints on them!

Did you know?

- Block printing in India is an ancient art. Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh were known to have exported block printed cotton from the 12th century. So if you take up this hobby, you will be following an 800-year-old tradition.

- The blocks are called ‘bunta’ and are usually made out of seasoned teak wood. Before using a new block, it is usually soaked in oil for 10-15 days, to soften the grains of the wood. Maybe, you could avoid that step, since you will not be using your blocks so extensively.

- While block printing saris, the fabric is washed to remove all starch, dyed to the background colour required, dried and stretched across a long table, with its edges pinned firmly onto a table. A ‘relay team’ of printers get to work. The first person is the outline printer, who works by moving down the length of the sari, starting with the pallu, using the block to print the outline of the design. Next to follow will be a printer applying the first colour, say red, for all the flowers, and so on.

- Each printer has a trolley with the dyes and blocks arranged on different shelves. The more colourful a sari, the more expensive it will become.


(Published 29 September 2011, 14:50 IST)

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