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Hand Block-printed Indigo Bedding

block print bedding

Block print bedding. In Rajasthan, India block printing turns sheets of fabric into beautiful hand crafted bedding

 

The family that makes our block print bedding has been part of northern India’s textile cottage industry for 200 years. The elderly father oversees the operation while training his sons, who will eventually inherit the workshop.

The workshops in this area specialize in the use of alizarin (an organic red dye), indigo, and a range of vegetable-based colors. Early travelers through regarded indigo dyers as magicians because of a unique chemical phenomenon: When the dyed fabric is removed from the vat, it first appears white, then green. Exposure to oxygen is what quickly brings out indigo’s well-known blue hues.

Nature also exerts her influence on the block print bedding dyeing process. Because so much of the work is done outdoors, the artisans plan their workday around the climate’s temperature extremes. And because the fabric is dried in the desert sun, projects need to be scheduled with monsoon season in mind. One year, an exceptionally long and lingering series of storms delayed shipment of the finished product for a few weeks. Although such setbacks can be challenging for artisans and customers alike, we think that the centuries-old craft tradition that these vibrant textiles represent is well worth supporting.

Take a tour of the process, from start to finish, below!

 

Step one. artisans use hand-carved wooden blocks to create a patten. They dip the block in a wax and then apply it to the white cotton fabric. Step two.The wax mixture is a combination of earth and tree gum. When the fabric is ready to be dyed in an indigo bath, the sticky mixture will resist the dye, leaving a white pattern behind. Step three. A sprinkle of sawdust ensures that the patterns don't smudge as the rest of the textile is being printed. Step four. Next, after an initial dip in an indigo dye bath, the process is repeated with a different block, which creates depth in the final design. Step five. After a final dye bath, artisans shake off the sawdust and prepare the fabric for a final rinse before laying the sheets in the sun to dry, as seen in the features slide.

Shop all of the Hand Block Printed Indigo Bedding Collection at the National Geographic Store!