Rethinking the easy luxury of block printed dresses
By Drishti Vij
26th December 2020
How a centuries-old heritage craft is remade for the 21st century at The Burnt Soul
India is the land of handmade—centuries-old craft practices still find precedence in the lives of thousands of artisans. Perhaps this is the reason why most people find a deeper connection to the material culture of the country.
WHAT IS BLOCK PRINTING?
Block printing is one of the earliest and simplest methods of printing patterns. It’s done by the means of humble-looking engraved wooden blocks that are capable of yielding highly creative and artistic results—often unattainable by any other methods.
While it is likely that block printing originated in China about 4,500 years ago, it was in India that this art form reached its highest visual expression. Indian printers have been able to create uniquely intricate designs, from Southeast Asia and palaces of Mughal emperors to many countries in Western Europe. Between outside influences and the diversity of the subcontinent’s indigenous communities and tribes, India has yielded one of the most magnificent pattern vocabularies ever.
KNOWING THE PROCESS
There are many different techniques of block-printing, but it is essentially done with carved material covered in ink to transfer an image on to paper or fabric. Block printing can be done with wood, linoleum, rubber, or any other materials. Images that are printed with this technique are typically much bolder than other types of printmaking: since the blocks are carved by hand, there is often less detail and more texture to the prints. It is possible, however, when using a very small knife, to carve blocks with a huge amount of detail.
TRANSLATING THIS CRAFT TO MODERN-DAY DRESSES
At the Burnt Soul, we have always endeavoured to create thoughtful dresses for women that can last for years to come. We often do this by treating our prints, techniques and silhouettes like one does with a language—with utmost respect. Many of our block printed dresses modernise this age-old printing technique for breathable, easy-to-style and timeless wardrobe essentials that are equally sustainable. From colours that are perfect for spring to trans-seasonal styles that you can use for layering, block printing has given our clothing a new meaning altogether.