Technique: Block Print
THE TECHNIQUE : BLOCK PRINT
Block printing is an ancient Indian technique used to create exquisitely patterned textiles. It is the earliest and slowest form of textile printing, but has survived for generations because of its intricately detailed designs, which are often impossible to recreate with other printing methods.
Blocks are typically made out of a high-quality wood that will not be subject to warping. An artist first draws an ornate design, then carves it in relief to form a stamp. To produce very fine details, an artisan may add tiny strips of copper to the wood. When the design is complete, the block is coated with a natural vegetable dye, then applied to the fabric. Every color requires a separate block, making block-printing very time and labor intensive. Each color is typically applied by a different artisan, requiring patient teamwork and precision.
After the printing, the fabric is treated and dried. Finally, it is rolled in newspapers and steamed, then washed once again. Each step helps to ensure that the pigment of the dyes remains rich and vibrant. Each piece of block-printed fabric reflects the rich history of an ancient tradition, as well as the unique style of the artisans who made it.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARTISANS
Community Friendly Movement (CFM) provides commercial opportunities for marginalized artisans throughout India. By partnering with producers at the base of the supply chain, CFM is able to bring handcrafted products to a larger market and increase independence in local communities.
Located in Kolkata, Destiny Reflection is a non-profit organization that works to end human trafficking and slavery. Their mission is to make sure that no girl who escapes from trafficking has to return to that world again. Their social entrepreneurship program strives to provide girls from such underprivileged and vulnerable backgrounds a steady means of employment.
Matr Boomie, formally Handmade Expressions is a sourcing partner for socially and environmentally responsible products. They work with underprivileged and disadvantaged artisans in India and strive to improve their economic and social standing by creating self-sustainable employment following fair trade practices. They partner with grass-root level NGOs and artisan cooperatives and help them create high quality handmade goods. They empower the artisans with market and fashion information that allow them to create functional products. At the same time, they encourage them to use natural fibers and recycled material wherever possible.
Sudarshan, based in India, focuses on product development and training artisans to produce quality textiles for trade. They promote traditional techniques and above all, they promote the artisans by providing a global platform for fine handcrafted products. Sudarshan is an advocate of fair wages and helps artisans build a greater livelihood. A percentage of profits go toward funding craft schools in India to educate and empower women in local craft industries. Together, they empower crafters to build a better life within their own communities. All products are sustainable and eco-friendly.
Sustainable Threads is a fair trade enterprise that works with more than 10 artisan groups located in India. The organization focuses on creating long-term relationships with its artisan partners and is community-oriented, in addition to caring about creating beautiful products. Sustainable Threads has a certification from Green America and prides itself on using environmentally friendly packaging. It is also a member of the Fair Trade Federation and is committed to promoting rural development, entrepreneurship, and social justice in the communities where its artisans live and work.