The block printing process plays an important role in fabric design in the textile industry. Many do printing as a hobby and many have taken it up as a profession. Be it a hobby or a profession, printing dates back thousands of years. Of all the types of printing, block printing is the oldest. To make the fabric more attractive, different designs are printed on specific areas through block printing. Nowadays, the block printing process has become much simpler and more advanced but the principles are still the same.
What is Block Printing?
Designers carve images and designs of their choice on a piece of wood. Printing paste is applied to the carved surface and printed on the fabric to create various designs on the fabric. This method is called block printing. Blocks can be made of any material such as Wood, rubber, plastic, linoleum etc.
Block printing was first introduced in India and China. At present, the method of fabric printing with the help of blocks is in operation in many countries of the world.
Types of Block Printing:
Block printing in textile industry can be divided into two types. Those are:
- Hand block printing
- Machine block printing
A. Hand Block Printing:
It is a very simple and ancient printing method. This method is mostly used by us in home or small cottage industry printing. In this method we basically use a wooden disc or block. Hand Blocks require blocks to be made of good wood 2”-4” inches thick. Otherwise, it can burst or burn very easily. The size of the block depends on the size of the design. In this method, block colors are mixed and printed on the fabric. An advantage of this type of printing is that a person can embroider designs on different parts of the fabric as desired but it is a slow process. The design is printed on the saree or three pieces through hand block printing.
B. Machine Block Printing:
Block printing is done automatically by machine hence machine block printing. Machine block printing cannot print more than three colors simultaneously. But printing is very fast. This machine is not in circulation at present.
Methods of Block Printing in Textile Industry:
- When a design or image to be printed on cloth or paper, should first be taken on a block. In this case block printing is done on the cloth by hand. However, it should be remembered that the design or image on the block should be a mirror image. That is, the desired pattern or picture should be drawn on the opposite block.
- The block should be carved according to the design. To do this by hand, take a sharp knife and slowly peel off the block. Care should be taken not to cut the lines. There is no need to rush. If not by hand, it can be done by CNC machine. But the artistic quality of the handwork will be much higher.
- When the engraving is finished, the block should be clamped to a handle. And if the thickness of the block is more, then the handle is not needed. The handle is actually for the convenience of holding. It has no role in design.
- When the block is finished, the cloth or paper should be held taut on a level table. If one want to make a series design through multiple prints, it is better to drag the spots.
- Appropriate ink should be applied on the block design. It should be done very carefully. For this it is necessary to pour ink on a flat wood or something else and roll it with a roller. If the entire roller is covered with ink, then the roller should be rolled over the block. Care should be taken to ensure that the entire block is inked evenly.
- Next, the block should be carefully placed on the cloth or paper and pressed. Can be pressed by hand or something heavy. But remember, the block should not move while pressing. Basically, block printing is done by moving the block.
Advantages of Block Printing:
- Printing can be done easily.
- Block printing is done at very low cost.
- Any design can be made.
- Exquisite beautiful designs are available.
- Any color can be selected for block printing. There is no color restriction in this case.
- No heavy machinery or equipment is required. If anyone knows the work, they can block with cloth at home. Also can work at any time.
- Does not require much space.
Block printing design has its own style that can make it stand out from other printings in the textile industry. Nowadays block print sarees, kameez are popular everywhere from any festival to all occasions. Since the entire work is done by hand, the designs are not equal and exactly the same. However, its position in artistic quality is much higher than digital print. Nowadays block printing clothing is in high demand among people of all age groups starting from the young generation.
- Textile Printing (Revised Second Edition) Edited by Leslie W C Miles
Author of This Article:
Clothing and Textile
Govt. College of Applied Human Science, Dhaka
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Editor of Fashion2Apparel. She is a fashion designer and ex-lecturer in Fashion Designing. She wants to spread fashion knowledge throughout the world.