Hand block printing is a technique in which wooden blocks are used to print patterns on textiles like cotton, linen, silk, etc. It’s a simple but time-consuming process of textile printing that requires strong artistic skills. Aesthetically pleasing designs can be achieved using hand block printing techniques, impossible to replicate with any other design method. Hand block printing is an ancient practice that’s still carried out in many communities in India, especially Rajasthan, which is known as the heart of hand block printing.
It involves a team of highly skilled people executing a series of steps in a meticulous way to achieve the desired quilt quality and design. These steps can take months to complete, so imagine the effort that goes into producing these wonderful pieces of textile art.
Our design inspiration
Inspiration for our designs comes from the close observation of nature and its highly aesthetic value, similar to the Mughal paintings that were developed in India during the 16th and 19th centuries. You can tell from our designs that birds, animals, flowers, and their fascinating variety of colours, fascinate us.
In fact, colours have a remarkable impact on us and our lives. The colours we choose to surround ourselves with communicate a great deal about who we are as people. Believe it or not, colours can change the way we feel about a place, influencing our moods and emotions.
So, it’s important to decorate our home and bedrooms with vibrant colours. Not just for an aesthetic purpose, but also to enhance our mood and to live a happy life.
The process of colour making and printing
Highly skilled artisans carve the designs onto a wooden block. Each colour has a different block, which means the wooden blocks must be carefully carved based on the colours used by the designer.
The next step is to make the dyes by mixing and matching different colours. The printer then immerses the wooden block in the appropriate colour and applies it to a cloth that’s rolled over a lengthy table, ensuring a good impression by striking it on the back with a wooden mallet. Consecutive impressions are made the same way, requiring the printer’s careful attention to make sure the exact overall design is achieved. These steps are repeated in the same manner until the length of the cloth is fully printed.
If a pattern contains several colours, the cloth is first printed using one colour, then dried, re-wound and printed with the second, and this process is repeated until all the colours have been printed.
For example, we’ve used eight colours on some of our quilts, which means the printer handles eight wooden blocks and eight rounds of printing are needed to create one quilt.
Cotton filling and stitching
Each quilt is then filled with a generous amount of hand fluffed cotton. Traditionally, hand block quilts are filled with only a thin layer of surgical cotton, but we’ve chosen to use hand fluffed cotton to make sure the quilts are breathable and provide much-needed warmth during winter. Our skilled quilters add the finishing touch by hand stitching the quilt with immense care and patience.
Ethical and sustainable ways of doing business
Everyone involved in this quilt making process is either a freelancer or a contractor. What does this mean? Our artisans decide their own terms and conditions with total freedom, determining their pay rate and payment terms. As a result, we cut out the middleman and ensure the money goes directly into the hands of our valued quilt makers. Most importantly, we believe in treating people with the utmost respect and providing them with a safe work environment.
We don’t just make great quilts, but also empower our artisans and their families through sustainable job creation and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and help build a brighter future.