There’s no question in our mind that India creates some of the world’s most luxurious textiles. From embroidered garments to the finest silk sarees, the attention to detail is impeccable. It’s no wonder we’ve fallen in love with their products and the artisans who make them! Block printing in India began in the 12th century, though it very well could have been long before that. The technique most likely came from artisans in China, living on the northern border. The Chinese have been printing designs onto fabric for over 4,500 years, so technically we owe it to them for our embellished styles of today.
Block printing on fabrics is commonly work done by a family who has passed on their skills from generation to generation. In some families, the legacy can be traced back 300 years! Block prints from India are so sought after because of the rich colors featured in the textiles. It is most common to use natural plant dyes which are mixed with metallic salts called mordants, which allow the color to adhere to the fabric. It is thanks to this natural dye and process that we warn to be careful with new tapestries on the first few washes as the colors can run. You can visit our resource for care instructions here.
The intricate designs are created by carving blocks of teak wood, a tropical hardwood which takes a long time to grow. Because of this, teak wood is considered an expensive material to use but it is the most durable, making it worth it for the repetitive process of block printing. What is all the more inspiring than carving the designs themselves, is artisans then print each section by hand, using their intuition as a guide. In some of our tapestries you can see this handmade quality where the edges of the block patterns meet.
While the larger fashion houses have taken to modernize block printing, we’ve asked our artisans to keep things pretty traditional. You’ll mostly find organic floral patterns on our block printed items. The Provincial Block Print Tapestry comes in ten different colors and makes for excellent bedspreads or tablecloths. We’ve seen them used as drapes for the sides of tents and they also make for the perfect picnic scape.
You can show us how you use your favorite Mexicali tapestry by posting a photo to social media and tagging us! We choose three winners with the best photos every month to win a free gift!