Block printing on textiles is the process of printing patterns on textiles, usually of linen, cotton or silk , by means of incised wooden blocks. It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of textile printing. Block printing by hand is a slow process. It is, however, capable of yielding highly artistic results, some of which are unobtainable by any other method.
In Rajasthan Colorful prints of Birds, Animals, Human figures, Gods and Goddesses are popular.
The important centers for this form of are Jaipur, Bangru, Sanganer, Pali and Barmer. Sanganer is famous for its Calico printed bed covers, quilts and saris. In Calico Printing, the outlines are first printed, and then the color is filled in. Bold patterns and colors are popular. They are printed repeatedly in diagonal rows.
Doo Rookhi Printing is also famous here. In this technique, artists print on both sides of the cloth.
Bagru is famous for its Syahi-Begar prints and Dabu prints.
The Syahi-Begar Prints are designs in a combination of black and yellow ochre or cream.
The Dabu Prints are prints in which portions are hidden from the dye by applying a resist paste.
Barmer is known for its prints of red chilies with blue-black outlines, surrounded by flower-laden trees. The other famous prints are of horses, camels, peacocks and lions, called Sikar and Shekahawat prints.
Blocks are made of seasoned teak wood by trained craftsmen. The underside of the block has the design hand carved on it by the block maker. 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. The new blocks are soaked in oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains in the timber.
The fabric, after pigment printing is dried out in the sun. This is part of the fixing process. It is then rolled in wads of newspapers to prevent the dye from adhering to other layers and steamed in boilers constructed for the purpose.
Once the cloth has been steamed it is washed to remove excess dye and the resist paste.
Hand block printed fabrics are best washed in warm water with a gentle detergent so that, the colors remain rich and vibrant.
Pattern made by hammering metal nails into a block of wood Pattern carved from a block of wood
These dyes are used if you need to print onto a dark background. Medium to dark grounds are dyed on fabric with specially prepared dyestuff .
The printing colors then used on the fabric contain a chemical that interacts with the dye. This interaction simultaneously bleaches the color from the dyed ground and prints the desired color on its place.
The primary advantage of this process is that vivid and bright colors along with white can be printed on top of medium and dark grounds.
Napthol / Reactive dyes
There are two sets of chemicals which upon reaction produce a third chemical essentially colorful in nature.
Fabric is dyed in one and later printed with the other. The chemical reaction produces a third color.
However, the biggest drawback of this process is that there are just a few chemicals available which produce colors upon reaction.