For generations, textile artists have passed down the art of block printing. Developed long before the advent of industrial technologies, block prints rely on the skill and precision of both the carver and the master printer.
Each color you see in the print requires a different carved wooden block, tooled by hand with exacting detail that must interlock exactly with the next pattern and color layer in the final print. It takes years to become an expert, starting with basic one-color designs and moving on to patterns that often have three to four blocks per design.
The printer starts with the block that will have the lightest color dye, dipping the block in dye and hand-stamping the block onto the fabric, block after block, row after row. When the lightest layer has dried, the next darkest color is applied, and the process repeated until all the colors are on the fabric. It takes a steady hand and just the right touch to make hundreds of yards of evenly patterned, smoothly dyed fabric. The speed and accuracy of of master printers is truly amazing!
The painterly appearance and enhanced textural aspect of the final look makes these prints wearable works of art, while the cultural context adds a touch of history and a people-centered way for independent artisans to earn their living. It's one more reason why we seek out fair trade fashion, making choices that are beautiful as well as meaningful.