Last month I spent some time in India, most of the time surrounded by textiles. Learning, hand-printing, indigo dyeing and shopping, a dream come true! The intention of my trip was to get to know in detail some Indian techniques and be able to combine them with the ones I’ve learnt whilst living in Japan.
I was in Rajasthan mostly to learn about Dabu (mud resist) and you can read more about it here. But once I was there I also had the chance to block print with pigments and that gave a nice change to my ever blue fabrics.
The Indian tradition of hand block printing onto cloth is believed to be over 4500 years old. It’s such an extraordinary technique that there’s no wonder why this art has inspired the rest of the world. Depending on the region, design and functionality of the cloth, they combine block printing as a resist with block printing with pigments. They also dip dye several times in between with different natural dyes, so a single piece of fabric can have a combination of all this steps.
My take on this was purely experimental, I hand block printed onto white and fabric dyed with Indigo and Kassis (iron deposits dye), they are far from being pieces of art but good enough to show the technique.
Since I’m sure many people would love to try this out with woodblocks or improvised homemade stamps, first I’d like to share an example of how the pigment trays are put together. This is a way to get a cushioned pad and just the right amount of pigment onto the blocks:
A mesh made out of string or thin wooden sticks is put inside a wooden tray
The pigment is poured into the tray, covering the mesh and then scraps of fabric are used to create a pad. After you’ve poured the colour, the first layer of fabric is placed on top and impregnated with pigment
The process is repeated several times with more pieces of fabric until there’s a right amount of cushioning and the pigment is distributed evenly on the tray.
These are some of my experiments:
First a little piece for my 1 1/2 year old daughter who is currently fascinated with the moon and stars – this piece was dyed with indigo (resisted with Dabu twice to get the different shades of blue) and finally silver and blue pigments were hand block-printed.
These are close-ups of gold pigment onto indigo dyed Shibori
Next is blue pigment onto Dabu-resisted and Indigo dyed fabric:
And finally gold pigment onto a piece that was first resisted with Dabu, then dyed with indigo and afterwards dyed with Kassis
There is so much I’d like to share from my trip to India that I’m fragmenting it into different posts. I’m planning to post soon about the woodblocks itself and how to look after them.
I’d also like to thank all the people who send me e-mails and nice messages about my work. All your comments make me truly happy. As for the ones asking questions, I try my best to help on writing but I’m thinking of running a workshop soon, so I can really pass on what I’ve learnt over the last few years and have some fun with you in person 🙂