Hand-blocked Textiles

For the lover of hand-blocked textiles, India has always been heaven.  

While Europe was clothed in plain heavy hemp, wool and linen fabrics, in the 17th century Indian printers led the world in colorful, lightweight, cotton fabrics. Indian printers knew the secret to making colorfast dyes. Traders moved back and forth between the Mughal Courts and the European Courts, adapting designs from the intricate floral borders of Mughal miniatures into wearable patterns to delight the European ladies. Indian block printed cottons took over the European market. Mughal emperors delighted in the scientific botanical drawings that the merchants brought to them as gifts so they instructed their painters to incorporate the flat outlines showing the stamens of the flowers into the borders of their painting. These stylized designs found their way into floral and animal dress patterns popularly called Chintz in Europe and used for bed coverings, curtains as well as dress material.

For over 300 years each generation had taught the next generation how to carve patterns into wooden blocks, formulate dyes and print lengths of fabrics. You can see fabrics being printed in the villages today that you would see in a museum. 

Block printed clothing and bedspreads became popular in the US in the 60’s. In the 80’s designers adapted the designs to a rustic and country aesthetic by putting traditional Chintz patterns and paisleys into Blue and White combinations.

But real block printed fabric has an inherent problem. The quality varies too much to be usable for home furnishing purposes such as upholstery, curtains and bedding. As much as the consumer loves the uneven stamped look of block prints they don’t like the variations that occur in real block printed fabric-off register printing, blotches, color shading from side to side. 

So Colorloom has led the market in adapting traditional block prints into screen prints which can then be used by manufacturers without difficulty. Working from the original block printed swatches in our extensive archives, we work with artists to duplicate the hand stamped look of a block print. This flexibility allows us to increase the scale, and play with contemporary color combinations such as Blue & White, Aqua, Coral and Gray to fit into a variety of modern interior looks from Country, Boho, Farmhouse, Rustic and Coastal décor.