Wood block printing is a technique used widely in Asia to print texts, patterns and images on different surfaces such as paper, fabric and even on skin! According to Wikipedia, wood block printing existed as far back as before 220AD and was very commonly used method in the Tang Dynasty for printing texts and images in books. This technique was also then seen in Japan, India and spreaded to the European countries.

Block printing has come a long way and has taken a significant place in fashion – from the popular Rajasthan Dabu prints to Gujarat's ajrakh prints, we see brands and designers employing block printing in their collections from clothing to home decor.

At WithAutumn we work with a family of block carvers to make our wooden printing blocks. We would design the motifs and send it to them to assess if it is possible to carve as they are individually hand carved using a variety of chisels, tools and files.

As designers, we some times get carried away and sent them designs that were too ambitious such as a complicated motif but want it made 2 inches tall – our carver will come back to say they can only carve the motif if the size is 6 inches. Communication do some times break down as well, and we received blocks not to our specifications but we always make the best of what has already been made.

In India, textiles are block printed in 10-15 yards and that is considered very little because setting up for block printing is a feat – prewashing fabric > drying > mixing dyes > soaking the printing pads > aligning and setting up the fabric on printing table > then the final printing can start. That is why we have simplified the process with easy to find materials so you can block print at home too!

Materials you need:

• item or fabric you want to print on (prewashed & dried)
wooden printing blocks
• waterbased block printing inks
• a few cups for mixing inks
• a padded surface
• an old toothbrush
• pencil and ruler for marking (optional)

If you'd like to learn block printing in person, we conduct block printing workshops in our studio too! We hope this tutorial is helpful to get you started on block printing at home! Show us your block printed creations by tagging us on Instagram @withautumn.sg or #blockprintwithautumn!