Hand block printing is one of the finest and the most recognized crafts throughout the world. India has made its name in the field of black printed fabrics. Each region of India follows a distinctive style and methodology which encompasses use of locally available natural resources and motifs. One of the traditional block printings is BAGRU HAND BLOCK PRINTING.
WHAT IS “BAGRU BLOCK PRINTING”?
Bagru technique of Block printing which is peculiar to state of Rajasthan and uses some natural colors for curating the same. Indians were among the pioneers in the art of dyeing and printing with fast (natural) colors in the world. Hand block printing has been recognized as an old craft that is here through generations in different clusters in the country. Each group follows its distinctive style and method, uses some locally available natural materials and motifs that make them different from others. ‘Bagru’ print is that kind of centuries-old traditional art of hand block printing that is still alive.
In India, one such place that is keeping this tradition of block printing alive is Rajasthan. The state has a small, peculiar village in its interiors by the name of Bagru that is only popular for keeping alive the three centuries old tradition of printing. The unique and splendid efforts of artisans of using these wooden blocks in their own peculiar way and uses indigenous methods of printing are known as “Bagru Printing”.
PROCESS OF BAGRU BLOCK PRINTING
The process of block printing is not only painstakingly laborious but anciently beautiful. The techniques have been perfected by the people of Rajasthan over more than 1000 years. This labor-intensive process requires a lot of skillfulness, time and tolerance power of artisan.
STEP 1: WASHING
This step is important to rid the fabric of any impurities. In the olden days, they would use cow dung diluted in water to do this. The fabric required a pre-printing treatment where the fabric to be printed is washed free of starch and soft bleached if the natural grey of the fabric is not desired.
STEP 2: HARDA DYEING
The fabric is dyed in cool water and harda powder. Think of this as a primer. Without this step, the dye will not absorb into the cotton properly.
STEP 3: DRYING
Once dyed, the fabric needs to lay flat and dry in the sunlight. The fabric will have a yellowish tint after this stage, which will later disappear once washed. While the fabric dries the colors are mixed. These color recipes are not only mind boggling but also provide a sustained environment causing no harm to nature.
Black: Horseshoes that sit on coals for a period of time, brushed of rust are then put in cans with water and sugar cane juice, left to ferment for periods of months to yield black dye.
Red: A mixture of natural gum paste and alum.
Brown: Red kashish with water.
The fabrics are ready, dry and primed for printing. First they stretch and pin the fabric onto the printing table and choose some blocks for my design. This step requires a lot of precision. The block is placed form left to right and then slammed hard with your fist on the back of the handle for complete registration.
STEP 5: DRYING
The printing is done, it’s time to lay it out to dry!
STEP 6: WASHING
The fabric is ready to be washed in cool water. The pieces are beaten against the concrete and ready for the final step.
STEP 7: BOILING
This is where the color fasting takes place with the help of flowers from the Dhaura tree. Pieces with red dye is boiled in a separate pot with alizarin which then turns the once yellowish color red. Once boiled, they give it a quick rinse, quick spin to dry and they are done. They dry in the sun, and I have two scarves that I’m ready to rock.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BLOCK PRINTING
It’s a form of art that’s been passed on from one generation to the other for centuries, maintaining its original essence and nature. It’s a symbol of heritage, love, and dedication, which one has achieved with practice and patience over time.
The creation of these beautifully designed fabrics is time consuming, requiring a lot of hard work and skill, which isn’t easily achieved. Thus, it’s essential that we not only recognize the hard work and skill but also appreciate its positive contribution by choosing to purchase these items, which include artistically designed, colorful bed sheets along with various other products.
Block Printing was a dying art that’s been revived with digitalization and global awareness so let’s do our part to maintain its progress towards commercialization by purchasing these wonderfully designed naturally colored bed covers and quilts which are available online on our website www.shopchaupal.com