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Block printing in Jaipur.

We are in of Jaipur, the capital of Indian State of Rajasthan. It is famous for textile printing, handmade paper industry, and for Jain temples. 

We visited all of these places today.

The first visit was to a block making and printing workshop.

There were about four or five men sitting in small shed like structures on the side of the road carving small blocks of wood to present these wonderful images. The temperature rose to almost 100 at 9.00 am, but the work continued at a feverish pace.

The block, being planed quite smooth and perfectly flat, next has the design drawn upon, or transferred to it. This latter is effected by rubbing off, upon its flat surface, a tracing in lampblack and oil, of the outlines of the masses of the design. The portions to be left in relief are then tinted, between their outlines, an ammoniacal carmine or magenta, for the purpose of distinguishing them from those portions that have to be cut away. As a separate block is required for each distinct color in the design, a separate tracing must be made of each and transferred (or put on as it a termed) to its own special block.

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I have a great collection of these wonderful block at home in my studio but it was extremely interesting to see just how they were made.

Some of the blocks were more intricate than others and I’m surprised that they can achieve such amazing detail.

Then it was our turn to learn and try our hand at block printing.

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To be honest I would have loved to have taken home the fabric on top of the printing tables… goodness they were wonderful. There are about 12 layers of burlap on the table and then about four layers of cotton to which the print fabric, a fine white cotton was pinned through this padding to hold the fine white cotton.

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The inks were carefully prepared by our helpers. To be honest, I’m not sure what the process was, but it was very colorful.

And after a little coaching the our attempts at block printing began. Its not as simple as it looks.

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This was my piece and yes I will make it into a small quilt.

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The experts however, were champions.

The experts showed us how.

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The new ideas for block printing are wonderful, I love the colors and combinations.

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