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block printing
; Registration code (if you have it) ; Reglink opened in new frame? ; Name of new frame for reglink ; Image 1 to load ; Image 2 to load ; Image 3 to load ; Image 4 to load ; Image 5 to load ; Image 6 to load ; Image 7 to load ; link 1 ; link 2 ; link 3 ; link 4 ; link 5 ; link 6 ; link 7 ; link 8 ; link 9 ; statusbar msg on image 1 ; statusbar msg on image 2 ; statusbar msg on image 3 ; statusbar msg on image 4 ; statusbar msg on image 5 ; statusbar msg on image 6 ; statusbar msg on image 7 ; resolution (1-8) ; speed of fade (1-255) ; pause (value = milliseconds). ; Progresive fading ("YES" or "NO") ; Optional image over applet ; Over image X offset ; Over image Y offset ; Memory deallocation delay ; Task priority (1..10) ; Min. milliseconds/frame for sync Sorry, your browser doesn't support Java ; Msg in no java browsers India has been renowned for its printed and dyed cotton cloth since the 12th century and the creative processes flourished as the fabric received royal patronage. Different styles of designs have evolved in different parts of the country and West Bengal is noted for it's bold and vibrant motifs.

The fabric to be printed is washed free of starch and soft bleached if the natural gray of the fabric is not desired.

If dyeing is required as in the case of saris where borders or the body is tied and dyed it is done before printing.

The fabric is again washed to remove excess dye and dried thoroughly.

The fabric is stretched over the printing table and fastened with small pins. This is an important stage as there should be a uniform tension in the fabric and no ripples.

Color is mixed separately in another room. Usually pigment dyes are used for cotton. You can read more about dyes at the end of this page.

Color is kept in a tray on a wheeled wooden trolley with racks which the printer drags along as he works. On the lower shelves printing blocks are kept ready.

The tray of color rests on another tray which contains a thick viscous liquid made from the pigment binder and glue. This gives the color tray a soft base which helps to spread color evenly on the wooden block.

Blocks are made of seasoned teak wood by trained craftsmen. The underside of the block has the design hand carved on it by the block maker. Each block has a wooden handle and two to three cylindrical holes drilled into the block for free air passage and also to allow release of excess printing paste. The new blocks are soaked in oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains in the timber.

The printing starts form left to right. The color is evened out in the tray with a wedge of wood and the block dipped into the outline color (usually black or a dark color).

When the block is applied to the fabric, it is slammed hard with the fist on the back of the handle so that a good impression may register. A point on the block serves as a guide for the repeat impression, so that the whole effect is continuous and not disjoined. The outline printer is usually an expert because he is the one who leads the process. If it is a multiple color design the second printer dips his block in color again using the point or guide for a perfect registration to fill in the color. The third color if required follows likewise. Skill is necessary for good printing since the colors need to dovetail into the design to make it a composite whole.

The fabric, after pigment printing is dried out in the sun. This is part of the fixing process. It is then rolled in wads of newspapers to prevent the dye from adhering to other layers and steamed in boilers constructed for the purpose. Silks are also steamed this way after printing. After steaming, the material is washed thoroughly in large quantities of water and dried in the sun, after which it is finished by ironing out single layers, which fix the color permanently.

click here to read about screen printing

Click here to read more about block printing craftsmen.

A brief description of Dyes
pigment dyes

Pigment dyes

Pigment colors are mixed with k erosene and a binder. The consistency should be just right, for if it is too thick it gives a raised effect on the material, which spoils the design. Small plastic buckets with lids are ideal for storing the mixed colors for a few days. The motif is printed directly on white or light-colored ground with a variety of pigment colors.

Pigment colors are widely popular today because the process is simple, the mixed colors can be stored for a period of time, subtle nuances of colors are possible, and new shades evolve with the mixing of two or three colors. Also the colors are visible as one prints and do not change after processing. Colors can be tested before printing by merely applying it onto the fabric. The pigment color is made up of tiny particles, which do not dissolve entirely and hence are deposited on the cloth surface while rapid dyes and indigo sols penetrate the cloth.

rapid dyes

Rapid fast Colors

In this process, the ground color and the color in the design are printed on white and/or light-colored grounds in one step. The dyes once mixed for printing have to be used the same day. Standard colors are black, red, orange, brown and mustard. Color variation is somewhat difficult and while printing it is not possible to gauge the quality or depth of color.

discharge dyes

Discharge Dyes

These dyes are used if you need to print onto a dark background. Medium to dark grounds are dyed on fabric with specially prepared dyestuff . The printing colors then used on the fabric contain a chemical that interacts with the dye. This interaction simultaneously bleaches the color from the dyed ground and prints the desired color on its place. Areas can also be discharged and left white. The primary advantage of this process is that vivid and bright colors along with white can be printed on top of medium and dark grounds.

naphthol dyes

Napthol / Reactive dyes

As the name suggests, these are two sets of chemicals which upon reaction produce a third chemical essentially colorful in nature. Fabric is dyed in one and later printed with the other. The chemical reaction produces a third color. However, the biggest drawback of this process is that there are just a few chemicals available which produce colors upon reaction.


Vegetable / Natural dyes

Historically of great importance, these dyes have acquired even greater importance now because of their eco-friendly nature.

bagru black

Bagru Black

This is derived by mixing acidic solution of iron - often rusted nails/horse shoes etc. with jaggery (country sugar) allowed to rot for about 10-15 days. Many other natural substances used for producing dyes are pomegranate skins, bark of mango tree, vinegar, slaked lime etc.

bagru red

Bagru Red

This dye is achieved by combining a source material such as alizarin with alum, the results ranging from pink to deep red.

indigo blue

Indigo Blue

The internationally famous Bagru Blue is obtained from the indigo bush found throughout India.

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