Wood Block Printers

Wooden blocks are carved to a design and then used to accurately print onto fabric. This involves either pigment dyes or vegetable dyes. Pigment dyes require an acid bath process after printing to fix the dye into the fabric. Vegetable dyes do not require this additional process as they naturally bond with the fabric through a process of oxidation. Vegetable dyes often use a resist process called dabu printing. This is where mud is used to imprint a design onto fabric and then allowed to dry, then it is dipped into an indigo vat (for example) and allowed to oxidise in the air as it drys in the sun. The mud is then washed out of the cloth and the design is then revealed. This process can be repeated many times depending upon how complex the design is.

We have been working in Sanganeer for the last four years but have now moved across to the Jaipur block in Bagru where there is an impressively eco conscious approach to the wood block printing process. Jaipur block is a compound that has been set up with the Indian governments support and support from a significant European Union grant. There are 21 businesses within the compound who share the same water supply. There is a digester that has been built onsite to recycle all the water used throughout the compound and digest all the toxins and impurities caused by the printing process. The digester uses a plant-based enzyme technology from Sweden that helps to purify the water and return it to a reusable state. The result is a clean water that is ready to be used again. It also produces a by-product that can then be used as a fuel. The printers that we work with in Jaipur block also use Enzyme technology to wash the fabrics before the printing process starts. This means that the fabric is not bleached at all, which is a common approach elsewhere.

There are other measures that our printers use to lower waste and ensure that the environmental impact of their production is very low.