The art of an Indian block maker is one that requires a meticulous precision and a methodical approach.
Carving the woodblocks is a very intricate process, involving a number of block makers, using a multitude of tools. It’ll take anywhere between a couple of hours and up to seven days depending on the ability of the artisans and the complexity of the block.
The number of woodblocks required will coincide with the amount of colours present in the desired pattern. Each colour/layer of the design requires its own woodblock carving.
It is a real pleasure to watch the block makers in action. The pattern is usually drawn onto a piece of paper, a copy of which is always kept for future reference. It is then stuck to the woodblock with a p.v.c. glue and quicklime mixture and the pattern is then carved into the block.
Teak and Sheesham, (Indian rosewood) are traditionally used because their properties lend themselves quite nicely to printing blocks. Making malleable yet durable and long lasting woodblocks.
Sometimes, as you no doubt noticed in the title picture, brass strips are embedded into the blocks to add an extra level of finesse to the print, giving it a crisp, even outline.
Once complete the Indian block will have a handle attached to its’ back and it will be ready for use.
(Many thanks to the V&A museum for this wonderful craft portrait).
Please let us know what you think in the comments section below! Not only of the video but also of the series so far, “Block printing, appreciating the art of hand made” Part 1 and 2… which one do you prefer, are you looking forward to the next instalment? Do you have anything to share? Please do carry on to Part 3 … Coming soon!