The technique of using hard carved blocks of wood and fabric dyes to print gorgeous and vibrant motifs on fabrics is called the wooden block printing technique. This art style and fabric printing technique has been around in India and Asia for centuries ago and has since been introduced in certain parts of Europe and western nations as well.
The carving of shapeless blocks of wood into rounded or patterned blocks of polished wood is done either by hand or by machines after which the intricate details of the motifs are hand-carved in the surface of the wood, creating a bulging up pattern. While creating decorative handicraft wooden blocks, a coating of white paint is applied with careful precisions to make the pattern stand out starkly against the natural wooden hues.
But in the case of creating printing wooden blocks for fabrics, the white paint or such finish is not applied. Instead, the process of block printing on fabrics with wooden blocks involves a series of steps and skilful techniques of preparing the fabric for the base. After which, fabric dyes are applied to the carved patterns of the blocks which are then pressed onto the prepared surface of the fabric, imprinting the pattern on the textile. There are other steps after that which involve drying the fabric or dyeing the fabric with resist techniques for further design or colour.
History and origin of traditional wooden blocks:
The ancient past of the traditional wooden block printing techniques dates back to the 3rd century in China, the land known for its rich ancient art and craft culture in Asia. The origin of wooden blocks was in the form of printing tablets and slabs with engraved sacred texts that were then dipped in ink and used for printing calligraphy and prayer texts on scripts. Asian nations like Japan and India adopted this block printing technique soon after.
It was in the 12th century when India started their own versions of the popular wooden block painting techniques. Rajasthan and Gujarat, in particular, became well known all across India and abroad for their unique works of wooden block printing on fabrics and wooden blocks handicrafts.
The woods, most traditionally used for making these blocks, were derived from teak or Sheesham woods, which are the most popular woods used for these wooden blocks. This is so because of their durability, strength and waterproof qualities. Other woods used in India are oak, rosewoods, pine tree woods, etc.
The stunning motifs and intricate pattern work of the wooden blocks:
The beautiful details in the wooden blocks are not just eye-catching but they also hold the unique art style of pattern carving and the cultural importance of their region of origin as well. The most popular motif patterns are the floral motifs, fauna motifs and the traditional patterns of geometric shapes and exquisite designs. The simplicity and beauty of the antique wooden blocks also come from the stunning colour palette used after carving out the patterns from a block of wood. The wooden block is in the most natural shades of wood and is polished to give off the gentle shine of attractiveness and the vibrant white coating, hand-painted ever so skillfully on the bulged up carved patterns attracts the eye and holds attention. These wooden blocks, jungle blocks show simple yet intricate aesthetics when it comes to visuals. The handicraft versions of the artefacts, hand-carved and hand-painted like the wooden printing blocks are exquisite souvenirs of regal beauty and products of the ancient art and craftwork legacy of Asia.
Wooden block printing on fabrics in India- an ancient Indian fabric printing technique:
India, a land full of ancient customs, rich flavourful culture with tinges of mystical past, is bound to have the most unique forms of art, craft and colourful traditional attires. At the onset of the 12th century, several parts of India took over the art of block printing and used the process of textiles using fabric dyes to create regal attires and patterned fabrics. Rajasthan and Gujarat are most popular for their block printing techniques. There are so many different cultures and regions of India, each separated by their unique sets of customs, art style, craft style, fabric making processes and unique textile processing techniques and yet are united by the love of art and the presence of a strong culture. Naturally, different forms of block printing on fabrics were introduced in India. Some of the most commonly known types of wooden block printing are- Ajrakh, Bagh, Dabu, Kalamkari, Sanganer, Bagru etc.
Gorgeous wooden block handicraft versions of the traditional printing wooden block:
Hand-carved wooden blocks with the traditional gorgeous intricate patterned motifs have now taken a new form of craftwork. Elegant wooden craft blocks and artefacts like- decorative hand-carved blocks, bookshelf decors, coasters, wall hooks, tea light holders and such exquisite handicrafts are inspired by the traditional printing wooden blocks. These adorable and delicate looking carved products are popular and well-loved as home decors and as souvenirs or as gift presents as well. The similarities between the decorative wooden craft blocks and the traditional printing wooden blocks are very close. This is because the decorative craft blocks are made to bear a close resemblance to the traditional antique wooden printing blocks. The decorative versions of printing blocks are not just useful as day to day life products but also make for gorgeous presents for loved ones. Check out exquisite wooden handicraft blocks from ExclusiveLane, our curated collections of the most stunning, intricate patterned wooden blocks and wooden keepsakes.