Block: The Astra Of Revival

Block: The Astra Of Revival

Block making for textile printing is indeed a fascinating and intricate craft that has evolved over time. The passage you provided offers valuable insights into the traditional process of block making and printing. Here's a summary of the key points:

Evolution of Block Making: Block making has evolved with changes in the printing and textile industries. Initially, blocks were simple wooden structures without handles, and they were pressed onto fabric by hand or with a mallet, resulting in uneven prints. Over time, blocks with handles were developed for easier printing. Clamping fabric between two identical blocks and using iron hammers for pressure application also became common techniques.

Materials for Blocks: The choice of wood is crucial in block making. Sheesham or Sagwaan wood, locally known as Saag or Sagi, is highly preferred for its availability and properties. It has a natural oil content that aids preservation, lacks fibers, and is easy to carve finely. Seasoning the wood is essential for its long life, and this can be achieved through air drying or soaking in water for an extended period.

Design Development: Block making begins with creating a design on paper. The wood is then mechanically cut to the required block size, and the design is transferred to the wood, a process called "likhai."

Carving the Block: Carving the block is a crucial step. Depending on the complexity of the design and the number of colors needed, different blocks are used. The outline block (Rekh) is usually the first to be printed to guide the placement of other blocks. Additional colors may require blocks known as "datta" or "Daatla" and the "Gad," which are thicker than the outline block.

Tools Used: Tools such as saws, drills, chisels, hammers, files, vices, and pincers are used for carving and shaping the block. A mixture of whitening chalk, gum, and water is applied to the wood surface to transfer the design. Iron chisels of various sizes are employed for detailed carving.

Seasoning Blocks: Blocks may undergo further seasoning by immersion in local oil for a few days if the inner wood layer is not adequately dried.

Block Sizes: Block sizes vary depending on the design. Main blocks for filling the fabric's entire surface.

 Block making and printing are complex processes that require skill and precision, and the choice of wood, design, and tools all play essential roles in achieving the desired textile prints.

Back to blog