One Block at a Time – Memories with Block Printers.

Craft, Handloom, Art, Design, Designers

One Block at a Time – Memories with Block Printers.

Tyabji, Laila

Issue #007, Winter, 2021                                                                       ISSN: 2581- 9410 As a teenager I adored going with my mother to one of the many handblock printers then in Delhi, while she got her saris printed - tussars, silks, chanderis, mulmuls. At that time there were several printing units in the  Jama Masjid, Sarojini Nagar, Bhogal, and South Extension areas, and we would sit on wooden benches in their workrooms, while they brought out their “chadars” or ‘blankets’, on which all their motifs and borders and jaals would be printed and numbered. My mother would then swiftly sketch out the layout of the sari and number each of the component parts - the pallav, the borders, the body, with the blocks she had chosen, and mark the colours as well from the dyed thread skeins the printer would produce. As they got to know my mother’s aesthetic, they would often ask her to design some sarees for them to sell as well, and soon we were spending the day there, sharing their food and numerous cups of tea; taking mitthais as our contribution. Each printer had his own set of blocks with very few duplications,  and (if my memory is right), in the 60s one saw more Farrukhabad style designs than the Sanganeri and Bagru prints that became popular later.  Perhaps this was because many of the Delhi printers came originally from Farrukhabad. One hardly sees those lovely allover multicoloured jaals of interlocking paisleys, flowers, fauna, and foliage now, linked in t...
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