28 September 2011

Wood Block Printing - an Introduction (part 1)

ps: this method works only for printing with dark colours on a lighter shade of fabric.

Hand printing with wood blocks is one craft I love to do. It's an interesting craft where you really don't need to follow a set pattern and can create as you go along letting your imagination run loose. You could go with a systematic pattern or just print away at random. Both will give you equally satisfying results.
It does get a little messy and you can smell the kerosene in the mixture, but that doesn't bother me...

A few of my friends wanted to know how this was done hence this post.
I'll write this up in three parts..
-the first part serves as an introduction to this project,
-the second part will familiarize you with the things needed and give you time to get your supplies together, you can find that here now....
-the third part will explain the actual 'how-to' of this project.
These are a few examples of things I have done at home:
The picture on top shows a plain cushion cover revamped with block-printing.
I have printed a few sarees and dupattas/stoles in the past but never thought of taking a few pictures then...:P

(India has been famous for its wood block hand printed cotton fabric for centuries.The artisans of that time used vegetable dyes, which would fade slowly over time, but now we have pigment dyes easily available that have faster colours and require lesser time for the colour to develop.)

Points to note before you start:
- the pigment dyes are mixed in kerosene oil so you will get a strong smell all along while working on this,
- have extra scraps of the fabric you'll use on hand so you can test the colour intensity on them,
- have waste scraps of fabric handy for wipe-ups,
- use natural (cotton) fabric for this project,
- if you are right-handed, it helps to start from left to right, and the other way if you are left-handed,
- always wash your fabric before you start to remove any starch that might have been used,
- try and use fabric that does not have a lot of woven pattern/texture in it,
- always iron the fabric before use - the smoother the surface of the fabric, the better will the printing be,
- it helps to pin your fabric to the work surface so it doesn't shift,
- always have a little extra mixture ready because mixing up a second batch will never get you the same shade again,
- lay out lots of newspaper before you start - this can be a little messy!!
- it is preferable to start on the project when you know there will be lot of sunshine- once finished with your printing you need to dry it (heat treatment) in the sun for a good 5-6 days,
- you can iron the fabric on the reverse once you are done, on high heat before putting it out in the sun,
-always wash your blocks with normal water as soon as you are done. Dry them in the shade - your kitchen drain board is just fine,
-do not soak the blocks in water as they absorb water pretty fast,
-you can lightly scrub the blocks with an old toothbrush to get the paint out from the crevices,
- let the blocks dry well before you use it for another colour,
- wash the finished fabric only 8-10 days after printing.
- you need to bang hard on the block when you print so be ready for a few sore hands...:)
- the fabric you use also decides the intensity of the final colour, eg. the same mixture will give a different intensity - a light shade- on muslin or organdie and a darker shade on thick cotton, as you can see here -
or here-
or here-

The next post follows in a few days...thanks for reading!!

01 September 2011

Fabric Project Baskets

Fabric Project Baskets
...a set of two project baskets that I sewed for a dear friend, Sanhita ---project shown not included...used as a prop for photography purposes only...:)
 The smaller basket, below, for notions or really small projects...:)
I made a satin fabric flower as an embellishment and attached it with a safety pin so it can be removed when the baskets need to be washed.
The lining fabric...
That's my Lacy Baktus in progress......

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