Printing Block

Indian printing blocks. Indian printing blocks.

A printing block is a tool used for producing a repeat pattern on textiles, felt, leather, etc. The blocks are closely related to paper printing blocks and embroidery blocks. Printing blocks have been used for decorating textiles throughout the world. Traditional textile printing blocks can vary in size from a few centimetres to c. 40 cm.

Printing blocks are normally made of wood, metal or a combination (such as having a wooden base with metal nails or bands hammered into its surface). A design is drawn onto the block surface. It is either engraved (sunk design) or the area around the design is carved away (raised design). The worked surface is then covered (inked) with dye, ink, pigment or a resist such as wax, mud or a paste of some kind. It is then pressed onto the ground cloth. The block leaves the shape of the required design on the material.

Sometimes it may take three or four blocks to create one multi-coloured design. The first block is normally an outline of the design (frequently worked in black). This is followed by more blocks/colours that are used to create the full design. Until the late eighteenth century, most blocks were applied by hand, but from the 1780's onwards machines were developed that could mechanically print thousands of metres of cloth per day. The use of hand printed textiles continues until the beginning of the twenty-first century, but in fewer and fewer ateliers around the world.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 22 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 13 March 2017 18:20