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Block printing

Block printing is a technique used to create patterns by stamping shapes cut out of wooden blocks. The blocks are previously impregnated either with concentrated mordant, or with mild acid that erases the mordant pre-existing on the fabric. This creates either a positive or negative contrast once exposed to the pigment. It is a bit tricky because the print only reveals itself much later in the process, after the dye has been applied.

The wooden blocks used for block printing come from a variety of sources and countries. I have actually owned many of them well before being initiated to the joys of natural dyes: as objects they speak of a craftsmanship that talks to my heart. A friend has brought a few of them back from India, some where bought in flea markets, other at the V&A shop, which reedited William Morris patterns along with a dedicated exhibition, I always keep an eye out for those when traveling, so those pattern follow my life line…

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