The block printing process has not changed for hundreds of years in Rajasthan. All of my textiles are hand printed by 5th generation Master Printers in Sanganer, 16km south of Jaipur.
The first stage of the block printing process is to create the printing blocks. This is done by transferring a mirror image of my design onto a wood block which is then skilfully carved by craftsmen at the block making workshop in Sanganer. Below left you can see the start of a woodblock with the pencil design and the beginning of the carving process and right is Ravi carving one of my designs into a wood block.
Block maker Ravi Ji working on our Galee woodblock
Each colour of a design will need a wood block of its own. My designs can require up to 4 blocks each. Once the wood blocks are ready they are then left to soak in oil for 2 days. This is to strengthen the blocks and reduce the porosity of the wood.
The first step in the printing process is to create the colours, all the colours are matched by eye and once mixed to the perfect shade are poured into carefully prepared printing trays.
Freshly mixed colours
This year's colours matched by eye
Printing trays prepared and ready for action
These are then the base that the wood blocks will be dipped in again and again in order to stamp the repeat design onto the fabric.
The fabric is pinned to long printing tables in the workshop and each colour block is stamped along the fabric with incredible skill and precision in order to create the unique effect of a block printed design.
Printer Vijay Ji working on our Monsoon design
Printer Ravindra Ji working on the Mykonos scene from our Yoonaan design
Variation in colour and printing is a wonderful feature of hand block printed fabric. This is a consequence of a fully handmade process which means that no two items will ever be identical, making each handcrafted item unique.