Block Printing

Lusinia brings to you a collection of pieces using the art of block printing.  The tools used are seemingly simple. The blocks are carved with patterns and motifs with a huge diversity of traditions varying immensely from region to region in practices and techniques, with each one of our artisans blockprinting their own unique cultural identity and differentiation into each one of our blockprinted pieces.

There is a thrill in mixing color and finding the exact shade you want, while also using a wooden block that has beautiful designs cut to it; and the results of somebody carving these patterns on wood for many hours makes the experience even more stimulating. The block coming in contact with the color and embracing its hues is absolutely intriguing. When we started out with blockprinting, it had seemed like a fairly limited art. But slowly, we learned of its depth and endless possibilities. It is not a machine that can have only so many settings and now, we have begun to realize one of the true beauties of working with hands.

We have partnered up with an artisan cooperative in Ahmedabad, a city in Gujarat, where blockprinting owes its presence. Mr. Sakir, who is the owner of the artisan cooperative, comes from a long line of blockprinters. He spends a lot of time training women artisans the art of blockprinting so that they one day are able to start their own businesses and become self-sufficient. Mr. Sakir explains, "This art, and the closest form of it, is something we work on day and night to strive to reach its best form. We work tirelessly to ensure that this art doesn’t die out and become extinct.

This art originates from the Mughal Kings and Royal families. When there were no machines, this was the only way to create beautiful items fit for the Kings and Queens of the Mughal dynasty. Now, even after machines have come into existence, we are still continuing this tradition that was started by the Mughal Sultanates, despite slowly coming towards an end. And this tradition is usually passed down from grandfathers and fathers. Both my grandparents, all of my cousins, and I have been doing this since childhood and just to keep that as a remembrance, I have worked so hard to maintain this art. If you go to the interiors of India, especially the interiors of Ahmedabad, you'll find all of the old temples and mosques of the old times. You can see the styles of the Mughal Sultanate and using that exact theme, we have created the designs of our blocks. That's where we gain inspiration for our designs”. – Mr. Sakir

It is the story behind each of our blockprinted pieces that makes them so unique. To show you their life, we spent some time with Mr. Sakir and two other very talented artisans, Yasmin and Yafisa, at their homes and workshop. Watch the video and discover the art and craftsmanship of blockprinting.

Blocks of Beauty:

The three main tools of a block printed fabric are the wooden blocks, the fabric and the dye.  It can take five carvers up to three days to create an intricate design in a block for use as a printing block.  The printers may use up to 30 blocks to complete a design.  Separate blocks are required for each of the colors used in a design and it not unusual to have four or five colors in a professional design.  It can take twenty people, each doing a separate task, up to eight hours to prepare a single block printed garment. With all this, the results can only be unique. 

Printing is done from left to right. When the printer is using the discharge or direct block print methods, the printer dips the block into the dye and then presses it onto the fabric. The printer slams the back of the block hard using their fist to create a clear impression. Then, the printer moves the block to the next portion of fabric to be dyed, using points on the block to serve as a guide for the placement of the block.

As they work, the printers pull a wooden cart bearing their blocks along with them. The wooden blocks can be interchanged from one piece of fabric to another, creating different patterns. Custom designs and different colors can be used from one fabric to another, creating still more individual work.