A revered art form native to Rajasthan, India, block printing is a painstaking process of labor-intensive steps that require mastery, especially in wood-block carving. Each color gets its own block and intricate designs can take several carvers days to create. Fabric is prepped with a mixture of herbs to make it absorbent for natural dyes extracted from plants, minerals and flowers. Artisans press the carved wood block with wet dye onto fabric and reapply at precise spots for pattern continuation. When the pattern is complete, the printed fabric is washed or boiled for the final color to come to surface. The color changes throughout the process — shade variations can be dramatic depending on a fabric’s exposure time in sunlight while drying. Due to their limited production batches, every piece has a distinctively handmade, unique and rich feel.
Our block print artisan partners live in scattered rural villages that are challenged by poverty and lack of infrastructure in their isolated communities. There are few opportunities for jobs in this desert region, where the climate is too dry for agriculture. Most artisans live in mud huts and some do not have electricity. We partner with an organization that focuses on economic, social and environmental upliftment for these communities and provides development solutions such solar power, education and health care.
Watch the video to learn more of the water filtration plant at the artisans’ workshop in Barmer that saves at least 5 million liters of water per year!