Thursday, January 8, 2015

Block Printing



After a perfect month and a half in the United States celebrating Christmas with my family, I am back to India! This is my first time returning after a trip home that I eased right back into my routine here. Part of this is because of the wonderful friends I have made here. Having girlfriends to go on adventures with makes India so much more fun.

Before I show you what I've been up to, I first want to thank everyone who donated to my GiveIndia campaign! I truly appreciate the generosity of everyone. Your donations will be put to use helping the resilient children of Jaipur. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

So...right before I left for the U.S. in November, my friends Marcela, Isilda and I went to visit the village of Bagru to see the Block Print House. I had met the owner, Deepak, the week before when he came to Vatsalya to introduce and train village women in block printing.

 The training of the women is possible because due to the efforts of Vatsalya, monetary support from a national bank, as well as an Australian woman helping to train these women in efforts to sell the products internationally in exchange for fair wages and ethical treatment.








The women were very excited to all try the block printing. An area has been set up on the Vatsalya campus in order to train and produce items. I hope it will be successful for them!

After talking with Deepak that day, he invited me to visit his workshop and I was excited to see the whole process. The men of his family have been block printers for many generations and export items to Europe, Australia, and the United States.

 Natural Indigo dye that has been steeped for several years.



Hand-made wooden stamps

These men work SO fast creating perfect stamps. All of the dyes they use are natural and come from various plants and herbs.  They also do a lot of mud printing, or "dabu resist." They put mud on the stamp instead of paint, and let the mud dry completely. Afterwards they submerge the material in the Indigo dye and then wash off the mud. This leaves the pattern under the mud the original white color and dyes the rest of the fabric blue. It is a very common style, especially in Rajasthan.

The blue scarf here shows dabu resist.



Here the fabrics are laid outside to dry after being dyed. 
Marcela was a very focused block printer!

We were not as quick or accurate at block printing, but we had so much fun! We worked together to create a beautiful design. 


The finished product!

I really enjoyed this day in Bagru. It felt like such an authentic experience. After we had our fun block printing, we went to Deepak's home to take chai and we also each purchased a scarf in thanks for showing us around. I appreciated Deepak's effort to explain to us his family's business and welcome us to his home.



I am still digesting the crazy experience I had today which I look forward to sharing with you soon...

But for now, I am very happy in India, exploring something new every day!

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