Present... and the art of block printing
Present... is the latest addition to the Jaadu own label range. Celebrating the skills and traditions of India. Making products in natural fabrics. Working with partners following ethical principles. These are the important qualities that we look for to pass on to our customers.
Janine met Dhananjai and Rachna Singh in 2014 whilst staying in Jaipur. Dhanajai’s mother, Mrs. Raj Kanwar, is a highly regarded expert in the art of block printing and the couple were looking to build on such a fantastic legacy and develop their own brand, Ojjas, as well as working with overseas designers. You can find their website here.
We began with the ever popular kimono style dressing gown which comes with its own matching case. Recently we have worked together on the ‘Weekend’ collection of holdall and ‘must have’ accessories. Next year we plan to expand into a full range of nightwear from cosy quilted dressing gowns, pyjamas, nighties and cute night shorts.
Block printing a fabric is a skilled and detailed process and dates back to the 12thCentury. The or blocks are made from seasoned teak wood, with the design expertly carved by hand. The new blocks are soaked in oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains of timber. The printing starts from left to right. The colour is evened out in the tray with a wedge of wood and the block dipped into the outline colour (usually black). When the block is applied to the fabric, it is slammed hard with the fist on the back of the handle so that a clear impression is made. A point on the block serves as a guide for the repeat impression. The outline printer is usually the master, the expert who leads the process and design. If it is a multiple colour design there will be a second printer using the point or guide for a perfect registration and possibly a third too. Skill is necessary for good printing since the colours need to dovetail into the design to make it a composite whole.
After pigment printing the cotton fabric is dried out in the sun. This is part of the fixing process. Then rolled in wads of newspapers to prevent the dye form adhering to other layers and steamed in boilers constructed for the purpose. After steaming, the material is washed thoroughly in large quantities of water and dried in the sun, finally it is finished by ironing out single layers, which fix the colour permanently.
Watch the video below to hear Raj Kanwar speak passionately about the importance of traditional hand crafts.