Block Printing is an ages-old craft which gives us results full of splendour and delight. However, it was seeing a bit of a downslide since the last couple of decades or so. Happily enough, of late, this trend is reversing. Block printed items like sarees, dupattas, stoles, bedsheets, pillow covers, are back with a bang in our landscape.
This is a type of activity with which we can churn out, on a mass production scale even, suits, table runners, tablecloths, dining sheets, and tens of other little knick-knacks. Of these, some more are mobile pouches, foam bags, table mats, dinner napkins, cocktail napkins, spectacle cases, towel strips, dressing table sets, sling pouches, potlis and fridge handle covers.
In practice, block printing involves the use of wooden blocks engraved with wondrous patterns on which some paint is smeared and dabbing these over pieces of cloth. Though it seems simple to do, in reality, it requires a good amount of concentration and tact.
The block printer needs to be very skilled in his or her labour of love or else the paint can get out of the boundary lines and make the whole getup seem very messed up. One can use any colour codes and combinations to get extremely pretty and begetting designs.
Also, it is imperative that the binder we use for making the paint stick onto the cloth surface is very strong or else it will start fading with one or two washes. Nowadays, kerosene-based binders can be made with the help of a few chemical reagents.
Incidentally, block printing is done even in several other countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even in China. It comes foremost in the number of formats which are used for adorning or making clothing more attractive and appealing.
Due to the craze for handmade and hand painted items taking over this arena, block printing was witnessing a gradual decline a while ago. However, like mentioned before, now the scales are tipping back in its favour due to its cost effectiveness.
In India, one finds block printing units set up galore in states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and even in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. We also have several NGOs now supporting this activity to get it back into the forefront of all textile art varieties.
It is this one move which will help revive dying art forms – something which must be done to preserve the rich cultural heritage of our country. The rot which sets in due to lack of patronage to our artistic base should be done away with.
We should support these forms of creativity which will not only help in increasing our exports base but also give us an edge in the international markets when it comes to versatile crafts. As it is, with something like block printing, the number of items we can produce is literally limitless.
With the advent of technology, we even require add-ons like tablet or I-pad covers, different sizes of mobile covers and what else not!
If one puts on our thinking caps, this planet of making new sidekick items is plainly unending and presents a world of opportunity in front of eager entrepreneurs.