Bagru, a town in Rajasthan, India is famous for its tradition in of block printed fabrics using vegetable and natural dyes. The process of making the intricate wooden blocks and printing on fabrics is a laborious art that has been perfected over a thousand years.
Since the 19th century when synthetic dyes were introduced, the use of natural vegetable dyes has steadily declined. The natural vegetable dyes are more expensive and more challenging to use than their chemical counterparts but are less harmful to the enviornment.
CARVING WOOD BLOCKS
Taarik scarves are printed by hand using intricately hand-carved teak wooden blocks. For each scarf pattern, the master wood carvers create one to ten print blocks, each of which takes anywhere from two to seven days to carve. The master carver holds a heavy metal bar in one hand and his chisel in the other, striking the chisel precisely to make these incredibly fine incisions.
The blank scarves are washed in cool water with harda powder to rid the fabric of impurities. The harda powder serves as a primer to prepare the fabric for the dye. Without this step, the color dye will not absorb properly into the cotton.
The scarf is placed outside to dry which can take a few days -- and even longer in the monsoon season.
We use many different mineral and vegetable dyes that are mixed in deep vats prior to application.
Once the fabric is dry and the dyes have been mixed, the artisans begin the most crucial step in the process. Each scarf is stretched out on a table and the artisans apply the dye to the blocks and carefully press the blocks onto the scarf to make the design.
The scarves are boiled in water to set the dye.
The scarves are again dried outside for the final step in the process.