There is nothing more beautiful than hand block printed fabric. The oldest and slowest method of printing textiles is, to me, also the finest. I love the slight imperfections, the soft bleeding edges of the repeated shapes and the traditional patterns created through this craft.
Time consuming it may be, with the fabric being lovingly hand stamped 700-1000 times for a 3m length, but the hours of skill taken to produce hand blocked fabric create a masterpiece every time. In these days of mass produced and machine-made fashion it is refreshing to see this centuries old tradition alive and well in India.
Despite my very limited luggage allowance, as I travel around India, I have now purchased FOUR small carved wooden blocks to take home and use on my linen clothing kits. To allow for the extra weight of these I have had to dispose of some cherished items. An eight year old bikini that, to be honest, had become baggy with wear. A dearly loved but battered and cork split ten year old pair Birkenstocks, and an oversized ‘Airport Edition’ of Cilka by Heather Morris. The latter I left in Kerala for the next guest to enjoy. Why on earth an oversized heavy version would be suitable for travel I don’t know, but the standard size was not available at Manchester airport and having read the ‘Tattooist of Auschwitz’ I just had to get the sequel for my long flight!
My first project will be to print a pair of my Kathy shorts. I decided it better to start small and dream big! I love the discharge method of block printing where the fabric is first dyed then a substance applied to the carved, shaped block to remove the dye in repeat patterned areas. The blank areas can then also be over printed with another intricately carved block. One more experimental project to add to my growing list!