Thursday, April 30, 2009

Weekend Special: Wood Block prints of India

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.

28 comments:

Shalini said...

Lovely detailed post. I love block prints...whether for clothes or home furnishings. Thanks for all the links ;-)

Patricia Torres said...

What a lovely weekend inspiration!! I loved this post... Aditi.. You've definitely outdone yourself this time!! I'm sure going to try this... on my wall (maybe)... or some furniture.. or furnishings!! Thanks for the lovely inspiration!

Fernanda R. Lima said...

Gorgeous post! Tks!!!!

;-)

Isabella said...

I recently bought some block prints from India... thanks to your post I will take them out of the drawer immediately ... oh, I still have to many creative ideas and not time tro realize them :-(((

trueblue said...

Hey Aditi,

Beautiful ! Thanks so much .. I have always been a big fan of handmade-things. Do have some similar pillow covers at home here.
Also, the wooden-blocks are stunningly beautiful. I am yet to browse though Etsy..but if you dont mind me asking , where are they available in India ? I would love to get hold of some :)

Aditi said...

Shalini, Patricia, Fernanda and Isabellla, Thank you!

Aswathy, I will find out and let you know!

pink dogwood said...

I want some, I want some. Maybe I will carve some out of erasers like saw on this one blog - great post - love it.

trueblue said...

Thanks for the update ..

-Aswathy

Rupa said...

Wow, this post soothes me...I love love love blockprinting......and its give me a high like nothing else......how I wish I can lay my hands on all these...apparently I block print too.....
http://rupasivanarayana.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/i-indulge-in/

Rupa said...

And I buy my blocks from Delhi, Karolbagh has many shops who sell these stuff....along with color pigments too....

Joe said...

Is there a particular place I can buy the wood blocks. I am in Mumbai right now, and keep looking but cant find them.

Aditi said...

Joe, All I know is that there were vendors on the street in Colaba. I am off to Bombay tomorrow, so will check and let you know if I find any.

lathika said...

Hi Aditi,

I am swimming in my drool after reading the post. My question to you like all the other people, where can I buy these wooden blocks in Mumbai?

Keep up the good work :).

May be you should have a post on not to miss shops in Mumbai and other major cities in India.....just a thought. will help NRI's like me to shop when on a short visit and don't know where to look for these kind of goodies.

abidur said...

hi like this side very much.
i like to know that place name. i want to visit there ple can you give any address of hand block

bye

Anonymous said...

Hi.. I really liked your blog.. Could you pls tell me where i can buy these blocks in Bangalore??

Thanks,
Yash

Jacob said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u
printed fabrics

buy tea online said...

fascinating thanks for the post.

james said...

i agree with them

izabelaitsme said...

just amazing! I just got a couple from my local antique shop and they are so beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I am going to Jaipur this summer, does anyone know where I can find an 'authentic' shop for woodblock prints?

Anonymous said...

There is a company in the UK called The Indian Block Company who design and sell wooden printing blocks. Check them out www.theindianblockcompany.com

Greeshma said...

Nice post! I am searching for this since a long time. Where can i find these blocks in bangalore?

Inflated Ego Studio said...

I found artfirehas these indian blocks for sale and i bought some to try. They were so much fun
http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/studio/oceanblue/0/0/97252

Gifted life said...

I will be in india hyderbad this coming month, anyone knows where i can buy some of those blocks!! I am located in the states, anyone know where i can buy them from states also.
Many thanks

Vaijayanthi KM said...

If you are in India but still want to order online, MatsyaCrats has some super dooper blocks here :)

But if anyone knows where we can get them in Bangalore (offline), please comment - the more the choice the better :))

Anonymous said...

I am dealing this type of wood blocks if u want it then send me massage on email. I send u the soft copy of wood block designs and u can choose n order it . I am in Delhi, India.
mumtaz.samad@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

can u help me with where can we buy these blocks from
they are truly amazing
Nirmala from Mumbai
email : shindenirmala@yahoo.com

Sahr said...

Does anyone know where i can buy these small wood block prints to use on paper?

Thanks,
Sahr.

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