The Block Maker - The Forgotten Artisan. But Not Here!
For centuries beautiful textile designs have been made by hand. The most recognisable method is the art of block printing, a process that is both labour intensive and time consuming.
The process involves firstly using a hammer and a chisel to expertly carve the chosen design into a block of wood - carving a block can take anywhere from an hour for a small piece, to several weeks or even months depending on the size and detail of the image. Unfortunately, many block print makers are caught up in the hidden economy and are exploited (not paid fairly) for their amazing skill. That’s why we sell block prints in-store, these artisans deserve to be appreciated for their skill as the blocks are themselves works of art!
The next process to create a print onto fabric involves the block being dipped into a dye tray, and expertly stamped onto the fabric with a hard pound of the fist, ensuring even printing. This will be repeated from left to right, aligning the blocks perfectly by eye. To master this skill takes years of experience.
This is an example of how beautiful the end result is:
As mentioned earlier, makers of blocks are prone to being undervalued. Why does this happen? Because, their work is done in the shadowy areas of fashion, where the supply chain is unregulated, leading to lack of transparency and industry protection.
Thanks to the Fashion revolution movement, consumers are asking "where did our clothes come from?". But, we need to go further. By asking clothing manufacturers of artisan block printed clothing, "who made the blocks". My hope is that we don't stop there....lets ask "who made the buttons", "who made the zip", "who made the cotton". Fair Trade should be an entitlement for everyone. Not just the sewing production unit. Please ask the questions, so that light is thrown into the shadowy areas of the fashion industry.
Photo on header sourced from: