Thursday, 4 February 2016

Rajasthani crafts - block printing

Rajasthan has many traditional crafts, including block printing (if you own an Indian style printed skirt it probably came from here), leather work using camel leather, hand paper making, carpet making, precious and semi-precious stone jewellery, miniature painting and Jaipur blue pottery. The local dress of the nomadic people is colourful, with block printed or tie-dyed fabric, shisha mirrors, bright colours and bangles, always bangles. 

While we've been in Jaipur we've had the opportunity to visit several local crafts workshops and also the Anokhi Museum of Block Printing

Housed in a restored havelli in the shadow of the Amber Fort this museum shows the history of block printing, with examples of regional variations and stitched textiles.

Traditional designs

And contemporary ones

We saw the block-maker's designs

and watched blocks being carved

Then we had chance to have a go ourselves - this is a three-colour design. The maximum is seven colours.

Ingenious ink trays have wire mesh to prevent too much ink clogging the blocks

These colours are for the print below. just a simple two-block print, but very effective.

Also whilst in Jaipur we visited two other block printing workshops, the first in Amber, at a collective that also includes rug making (more in a later post). 

The guy on the left is making the first print in this three-block process ...

closely followed by his colleagues with blocks two and three. Registration is done by eye (there are hidden dots for the first block so spacing remains consistent) and they work so fast, making it look really easy (it isn't!).

A selection of blocks on display - the four below make up the elephant.

And here you can see the stages of printing. Because these are natural dyes, the colours are set in the sun, and gradually changes colour to the bright colour seen bottom right. Here the process was  speeded up using nitric acid; I think I prefer the undeveloped colours!

And finally a visit to a workshop in Sanganer village, now a suburb of Jaipur, which is well known for block printing, blue pottery and hand made paper. 

In this tiny shed fabric for duvet covers and pillow cases was being printed using three blocks. They kindly stopped to show is the process and let us have a go.

Fascinating! Even Shyam our driver couldn't resist a look through the window - either that or he was trying to hurry us up so we got to Pushkar before dark!

More pictures over on InStitches blog.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

ooh I would love to have a go at that printing - I bet it is much harder than they make it look though!