I have admired this ancient art form for a long time but my interest in woodblock printing was renewed by these intricately carved wooden blocks that my sister brought back from a recent trip to India.
Woodblock printing originated in China, first on fabric and later, on paper. It was widely used in Japan to produce "motifs of landscapes, tales from history, the theatre and pleasure quarters" such as those by Hiroshige....
"View of Mt Fuji from Harajuku", part of Fifty three stations of the Tokaido series by Hiroshige (Image credit: Wikipedia commons)
In India, woodblock printing on fabric was widely practiced and large quantities were exported to Europe. Many artisan communities such as Sanganer and Bagru in Rajasthan, India still practice this art form.
If you live in India, your options for obtaining the wood block print fabrics are almost limitless. If you don't, there are still many choices available to you.
I have listed a few to get you started..
1. Tilonia: Artisans of India sells beautiful block-printed fabrics both for your sewing needs as well as home furnishings. It is an opportunity for you to get some goodies for your home and at the same time, support rural development and education of the artisans at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan.
Images from Tilonia store of the Blue and green flora and fauna fabric and decorative pillow
2. FabIndia : Everyone loves FabIndia and their clothing and home furnishings are gorgeous. Right now, I am eyeing their Coromandel block prints...
and their silk Nandini dupatta (stole)...
Images from FabIndia online
3. Ten Thousand Villages- One of the "world's largest fair trade organizations" and "representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East"
I found the name really intriguing and apparently, it comes from an old Gandhi quote "India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with".
4. Rikshaw Design: Block print "bedding for the bohemian baby". These are beautiful and hand-blocked on cotton. I found the patterns restful and soothing.
Shown below is their Bombay pattern. I had to include this image from their website showing all those wooden blocks. It just screams CREATIVITY!!
Images from Rikshaw Design
5. Saffron Marigold: I have blogged about this online store before. I find their website really user friendly and I am loving their Paisley au lait pattern, shown below,
Image from Saffron Marigold
Also check out this slideshow on their website describing the block printing process.
Of course, block printing can be found on other materials too, not just fabric. Paper, certainly. Wallpaper like the Pierette from Les Indiennes...
(Les Indiennes 's each block print is drool-worthy ;))
Image from Les Indiennes
My sister tried it in her pottery class,
Beautiful, isn't it? If you are now inspired to try block printing, I did find wooden blocks available on Etsy. Click here to browse. Hope you enjoyed reading my weekend special!
UPDATE 5/3: Where do you buy the wooden blocks if you are in India?
Apparently, a lot of popular tourist locations do have street-side vendors. My sister got a few of them from Colaba in Mumbai and others from Bangalore. Wishing I had been there to buy a basketful!!
All other images copyrighted to Once Upon A Tea time. Information on block printing origin sourced from Wikipedia. Ten thousand Villages logo and information from tenthousandvillages.com.