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CRAFTS OF INDIA / BLOCK PRINTING / PROCESS -2
BLOCK PRINTING

- Beautiful greens and pinks are possible with indigo sol colors but pigment colors are widely popular today because the process is simple, the mixed colors can be stored for a period of time, subtle nuances of colors are possible, and new shades evolve with the mixing of two or three colors. Also the colors are visible as one prints and do not change after processing.

- Colors can be tested before printing by merely applying it onto the fabric. The pigment color is made up of tiny particles, which do not dissolve entirely and hence are deposited on the cloth surface while rapid dyes and indigo sols penetrate the cloth.

- Pigment colors are mixed with kerosene and a binder. The consistency should be just right, for if it is too thick it gives a raised effect on the material, which spoils the design. Small plastic buckets with lids are ideal for storing the mixed colors over a few days.

- Cotton sarees after pigment printing are dried out in the sun. This is part of the fixing process.They are rolled in wads of newspapers to prevent the dye form adhering to other layers and steamed in boilers constructed for the purpose.

- Silks are also steamed this way after printing. After steaming, the material is washed thoroughly in large quantities of water and dried in the sun, after which it is finished by ironing out single layers, which fix the color permanently.

- The printer commences by drawing a length of cloth, from the roll, over the table, and marks it with a piece of coloured chalk and a ruler to indicate where the first impression of the block is to be applied.

- She then applies the block in two different directions to the colour on the sieve and finally presses it firmly and steadily on the cloth, ensuring a good impression by striking it smartly on the back with a wooden mallet.

- The second impression is made in the same way, the printer taking care to see that it fits exactly to the first, a point which he can make sure of by means of the pins with which the blocks are provided at each corner and which are arranged in such a way that when those at the right side or at the top of the block fall upon those at the left side or the bottom of the previous impression the two printings join up exactly and continue the pattern without a break.

- Each succeeding impression is made in precisely the same manner until the length of cloth on the table is fully printed. When this is done it is wound over the drying rollers, thus bringing forward a fresh length to be treated similarly.

- If the pattern contains several colours the cloth is usually first printed throughout with one, then dried, re-wound and printed with the second, the same operations being repeated until all the colours are printed.