Hand-block Printing: An Ode to Indian Cultural Legacy

Hand-block Printing: An Ode to Indian Cultural Legacy

17 Looms, Crafted by Pinkvilla, pledges to bring diverse textile arts from India to the global stage. With its maiden collection, Amara, it primarily focuses on traditional hand-block printed creations in contemporary silhouettes. Talking about the art form, locally known as “chhapai”, hand-block printing has been an integral part of India’s cultural heritage for centuries. Its designs comprise exquisite paisleys, damasks, ogee, flowers, buds, leaves, vines, etc. arranged in symmetrical compositions. These characteristics give the garments a uniquely vibrant aesthetic that makes them stand out.


Our artisans have unparalleled expertise in this craft and have been dedicated to it for decades, as it has been passed on to them for several generations. To yield high-quality results, they staunchly advocate traditional hand-block printing practices over digital printing. Having said that, at 17 Looms, we deeply value our artisans’ mastery, craftsmanship, and commitment — our brand ethos being deeply rooted in enabling artisan triumph and embracing cultural legacy.


By giving insights into our hand-block printing method, we not only intend to assure our readers of the transparency and authenticity of our practices but also pay homage to a craft that is not just an occupation but a way of life for our artisans.


Hand-block Printing Process:

Here’s a sneak peek into how our artisans bring Amara’s exquisite block-printed garments to life -


Step 1: Making of the Block



The process of crafting exquisite hand block-printed fabrics starts with the making of the block itself. Artisans begin the process by drawing intricate nature-inspired motifs on paper. Then, the designs are traced onto translucent sheets and replicated on beams of Sheesham wood, without any compromise on precision. 



Following this, the designs are meticulously engraved using traditional small-tipped knives. The blocks are then carved out and used as stencils for design.


Step 2: Making of the Dye


To make the dye, the artisans mix vegetable-derived pigment powders in boiling water to prepare a color concentrate. A small quantity of the concentrate is then mixed with a tenacious, white-colored leveling agent. This gives the color the desired saturation, consistency, and color richness, perfect for making vibrant and resilient prints on the fabric.


A notable feature — the final mixture is perfectly plasticized, which prevents it from dissolving in water.


Step 3: Printing of the Fabric



At this stage, the artisans dip the carved-out block into the dye and press it firmly onto the fabric, thereby covering the sheet with intricate prints as per the final design.



Step 4: Drying of the Fabric



The freshly-printed fabric is then spread out to air dry for 24 to 48 hours. In this process, the artisans take great care that the fabrics don’t get stained.


Step 5: Immersing in a Color Dye Solution


After the prints dry out, the fabric is coiled up and immersed in a translucent, diluted vegetable dye for the canvas to procure color, followed by another drying time of 1-2 days. Lastly, the fabric is rinsed thoroughly in water, which tests the resilience of the prints, and how long they stay on the fabric for.



Hand block printing is a multi-step process, so printing and dye-washing are often carried out repeatedly to get the desired results. The meticulous work pays off with far superior results, marked by better color vibrancy, character, and cultural groundedness compared to those of modern technologies.


By providing a platform for hand-block printing artisans to showcase their craft and working closely with them for the Amara collection, 17 Looms, Crafted by Pinkvilla, aims for this legacy textile art to gain momentum worldwide. And with Amara’s exciting launch in the summer of 2024, it sets the stage for fashion enthusiasts across the globe to be able to revel in its glory.


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