Block Printing Being done

How Do They Do That?: The Process of Making Hand-Blocked Patterns

Block printing is considered to be one of the most artistic methods of adding prints to textiles. The process requires hours upon hours of love and care from the hand that does it, yet because of the astoundingly beautiful results, it is still widely used today.

It is difficult to say when the art of block printing began, but it is estimated to be thousands of years old, even as early as the 5th century B.C., with roots in Japan, China, and India. Then, the woodblock technique was used for printing both text and images (before the magic of automated printing presses). The process has not changed much with the passing of time—designs are first carved into blocks of wood or stone, which can take hours, even days.

Bisheng Woodblock Printing Blocks, c. 990 - 1051

Bisheng Woodblock Printing Blocks, c. 990 – 1051

Woodblock, India, c. 1900

Woodblock, India, c. 1900

Modern WoodblocksModern woodblocks & blocks of various materials

In some cases, dyes or paints are hand made, as well, using pigment powders extracted from plants.

Indian Pigments for Dying

Dyes are either rolled onto blocks or the blocks are dipped into the dyes from a tray, and then firmly pressed onto the fabric or paper that is pulled tight to be sure of accurate printing. After dyeing, the fabric/paper is carefully hung to dry. If it is an intricate pattern, the outline is done first, then the rest is filled in, with the drying process being repeated after each layer is placed on the textile.

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Block Printing Being done

Wood block printing

Check out some of our favorite looks with block prints:

Seafoam Blue-Greens

We like the calming nature of these hand-blocked seafoam green patterns. They look especially nice with koi orange accents (one of the hottest colors this season).

Celerie Kemble Block Print Wallpaper Interior Decor

Schumacher Wallpaper - Hothouse Flowers sisal - Seaglass Chalk 5006092
Schumacher Wallpaper – Hothouse Flowers sisal – Seaglass Chalk
Schumacher Wallpaper - Asara Flower - Water Blue 5005322
Schumacher Wallpaper – Asara Flower – Water Blue
Scalamandre Wallpaper - Shalimar - Ivory on Aqua WP88278-008
Scalamandre Wallpaper – Shalimar – Ivory on Aqua

A Vision in Red (and Orange)

Whether in a bedroom or a living room, these red hand-blocked prints bring an element of passion to a space as well as an exotic flair. Accent it with a small amount of powdery blue.

Hand Blocked Fabric and Wallpaper Interior Decor

Schumacher Wallpaper - Kaladera - Valencia 5005253
Schumacher Wallpaper – Kaladera – Valencia
Scalamandre Fabric - Luca - Red 16339-003
Scalamandre Fabric – Luca – Red 16339-003
Scalamandre Fabric - Resist Print - Tangerine 6218-003
Scalamandre Fabric – Resist Print – Tangerine
Duralee Fabric - 21039-19 Aqua
Duralee Fabric – 21039-19 Aqua

Barely There Neutrals

Neutrals in fabric and wallpaper are a great way to add a bit of hand-blocking to your home without having to redecorate the whole room.

Schumacher Jaipur Collection Block Print Wallpaper Interior Decor 5005200
Schumacher Jaipur Collection Block Print Wallpaper Interior Decor
Schumacher Wallpaper - Katsura Stripe - Oyster 5005200
Schumacher Wallpaper – Katsura Stripe – Oyster
Schumacher Wallpaper - Katara Paisley - Oyster 5005330Schumacher Wallpaper - Katara Paisley - Oyster 5005330
Schumacher Wallpaper – Katara Paisley – Oyster
Scalamandre Wallpaper - Shibui - White on Yellow Simulated Silk wp81102-005
Scalamandre Wallpaper – Shibui – White on Yellow Simulated Silk wp81102-005
Scalamandre Fabric - East India Linen - Beige e Bianco 16482-003
Scalamandre Fabric – East India Linen – Beige e Bianco

To Learn More About Block Printing, Watch this Video:

Related Articles:

Freshly Pressed: Block Print Decor

Celerie Kemble, John Robshaw & Thomas O’Brien Pay Tribute to Block Printing

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Photo Sources (in order of appearance):
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2 thoughts on “How Do They Do That?: The Process of Making Hand-Blocked Patterns

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