Woodblock printing on textiles is the process of printing patterns on textiles, usually of linen, cotton or silk, by means of incised wooden blocks. It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all methods of textile printing. There is evidence that it was practiced as early as the fifth century BC, with actual fragments found from as early as the fifteenth century in India, China and Japan.
The drawings are hand carved into rosewood blocks which are then used as stamps to transfer the prints on to the fabrics. It is necessary only to ink the block and bring it into firm and even contact with the cloth to achieve the desired print. For color printing, multiple blocks are used, each for one color.
Even though block printing by hand is an extremely slow process, it is capable of yielding highly artistic results, some of which unobtainable by any other method.
Working closely with a skilled team of printers in Rajasthan to collaboratively produce exclusive collections of hand-block printed fabrics, Kozii promotes a synergy between design, development and sustainability, inspiring good business practices and the continuing revitalization of traditional skills.
Although the basic principles remain the same, there are several variations of Mud Resist printing techniques. Here, we will explain specifically the Dabu Resist method, which is the most commonly practiced in Rajasthan, where we create and produce our very own exclusive fabric designs.
In order to produce a mud resist print we need first of all the mud resist paste. This paste is essentially made with black clay from ponds which accounts for the main ingredient of the resist effect. Wheat powder and Arabic Gum are then added to improve adhesion of print paste to block and fabric. And finally, Lime water is included in the mix to prevent cracking of clay at the printed portion and also to improve adhesion of print to fabric.
The method varies from printer to printer but most commonly the Dabu paste is placed onto the fabric with the help of a carved wooden block. Depending on creativity and desired effects, other objects and even hands may be used to create specific designs.
Saw dust is then sprinkled manually on the wet Dabu print and left for a few hours for drying. After printing and drying, the fabric is then dipped in a cold dye solution. Indigo dyeing is the most common and in which case would produce a white print effect against a blue background. The Dabu printing and dyeing processes may be repeated till the desired design is obtained.
Dabu printing is a very slow and meticulous art form and extremely skilled printers are essential to achieve highly artistic results. This emphasizes the need not only to preserve traditional skills but also to upgrade the designs to a contemporary context, working in such a way that traditional handicraft heritages may be safeguarded for the ultimate benefit of a community and its people.
Khadi is a term for hand-spun and hand-woven cloth from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is primarily woven from cotton but may also be woven in silk or wool. It is an organic comfortable fabric, very versatile in that it is cool in summer and warm in winter, becoming second skin after a few washes.
The fabric got its importance from Mahatma Ghandi when he revived the 5000 year old process of hand weaving as part of his movement of freedom fight in the twenties.
The Khadi movement, as it may be called, promoted an ideology, the idea that Indians could be self-reliant on cotton and be free from the high priced goods and clothes the British were then selling. This movement aimed at boycotting foreign goods and promoting Indian ones, envisioning the improvement of the country’s overall economy by following the principles of swadeshi – meaning self-sufficiency.
Still today, the Government of India has been appealing to citizens to promote the usage of Khadi. In every city you can find Khadi Government Shops where any Khadi producer has their sale guaranteed at just prices and where anyone can buy Khadi fabrics and garments with the assurance of following fair trade policies.
All Khadi found in Kozii shops is bought directly from these government shops, contributing, in this way, to a social system that empowers the poorer and therefore respecting its very own fair-trade and environmental brand consciousness
“If we have the Khadi spirit in us, we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life.”Mahatma Ghandi
Ikat, or ikkat, is a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles that employs resist dyeing on the yarns prior to dyeing and weaving the fabric.
In ikat the resist is formed by binding yarns with a tight wrapping applied in the desired pattern. The yarns are then dyed. The bindings may then be altered to create a new pattern and the yarns dyed again with another color. This process may be repeated multiple times to produce elaborate, multicolored patterns.
When the dyeing is finished all the bindings are removed and the yarns are woven into cloth. In other resist-dyeing techniques such as tie-dye and batik the resist is applied to the woven cloth, whereas in ikat the resist is applied to the yarns before they are woven into cloth. Because the surface design is created in the yarns rather than on the finished cloth, in ikat both fabric faces are patterned.
A characteristic of ikat textiles is an apparent “blurriness” to the design. The blurriness is a result of the extreme difficulty the weaver has lining up the dyed yarns so that the pattern comes out perfectly in the finished cloth. This blurriness characteristic of ikat is often prized by textile collectors.
Ikat is produced in many traditional textile centers around the world, from India to Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Japan, Africa and Latin America and can also be found at Kozii’s, in Algarve.
Indigo is a deep and rich colour close to the color wheel blue, as well as to some variants of ultramarine. It is traditionally regarded as one of the seven colours of the rainbow.
The colour indigo is named after the indigo dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species that are common in tropical climates. Cultivation is believed to have occurred as far back as 5,000 years, in present-day Pakistan and Northwest India.
By the 1500’s, indigo’s unique process was brought to Europe along with other valued items. The continent was bewitched by the strange, almost magical dye process and it’s perceived “exotic” origins.
Indigo had a long complicated history as an exquisite commodity reserved only for the royalty. In fact, indigo cloth was priced at such high a value that it was referred to as “blue gold,” and in darker times, the fabric was even used as currency in the slave trade.
In India, indigo was important, not only for its commercial value but also because it was the only dye other than madder that stayed permanently on cotton without a mordent. It was thus very quickly maneuvered by traditional hand-block-printers and other skilled artisans from the textile industry.
By the 19th century, as the demand for mass-production began to take hold of the fashion world, the indigo industry was unable to keep up and an alternative solution was then born: synthetic indigo. This synthetic version is actually the colour we are familiar with today, particularly if you own jeans from large manufacturers. The advent of this invention caused a steep decline for natural indigo, while the much cheaper synthetic dye became the norm for the fashion and textile industries.
There has been a very recent resurgence in appreciation for the natural version in contemporary fashion, particularly with Ikat, Khadi and other traditional handmade textiles allowing for individuality and quality to be valued over mass production. The idea of such a beautiful and special natural dye is certainly appealing amongst eco-friendly earth-conscious designers and consumers, and so it is for Kozii’s team and its customers.
Silkscreen Printing, or Serigraphy, is a technique that involves printing ink through hand-carved stencils that are supported by a porous silk mesh stretched across a frame called a screen.
Silkscreen Printing and other stencil-based printing methods are considered among the oldest forms of printmaking and can be traced as far back as 9.000 BC, when stencils were used to decorate Egyptian tombs and Greek mosaics.
An original image or design is the first step in the process. Then the printer uses his knowledge to develop a separate stencil for each color in this design. Inks are custom mixed and matched to the desired outcome. The screen printer pulls the ink across the printing frame, which has been placed above the textile that will hold the art work. The ink is then forced through the screen, printing the desired motifs onto the fabric below.
Even knowing that silkscreen printing allows you to create multiple editions of the same artwork, each silkscreened print is considered an original piece since the tactile quality of the ink on the fabrics and the printing style are perceived as inseparable parts of the artwork, which differs invariably from printer to printer.
Like Kozii, many brands and designers are now discovering the potential of traditional crafts and revitalizing traditional art forms. With a concern for a more human and sustainable industry, a new positive dynamic is emerging between traditional crafts and the modern fashion industry. By encouraging a valued appreciation for traditional crafts, we may, hopefully, be creating a space where artisans can eventually reposition their skills and simultaneously take part and protect their traditions.