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 is documented as early as the 12th century, though it very well could have begun long before that. The technique most likely came from artisans living on the northern border of China. The Chinese have been printing designs onto fabric for over 4,500 years, so technically we owe the embellished styles of today to them.
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 due 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 (pictured above), a tropical hardwood which takes a long time to grow. Though expensive, the durability of teak wood makes it a natural choice for the repetitive process of block printing. In addition to carving the designs themselves, artisans 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 mechanized 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 an array of 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 watch the whole process of how the block prints we sell are made in this video from 2015, narrated by Mexicali Blues co-owner, Pete Erskine.
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!