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Thursday, 8 September 2011

Found The Lost Treasure-Indian Hand Carved Wood Block Stamps

Yay! I made one big discovery yesterday, while unpacking the moving boxes that were shoved off in garage since a couple of years. I found my old wood stamp blocks that I had purchased during my stay in India. Ever since I decided to convert my jewelry making hobby into profession, I had not even looked at these, forget about using them. But now I can't wait to use these and create interesting projects. The intricately hand carved designs and patterns on them are extremely beautiful. OMG! My mind is overflowing with the ideas. Okay! Before I go on and on about this, let me tell you more about these functional pieces of art.




Indian Hand carved wood blocks were traditionally used to print on textiles using natural dyes derived from plants, and other organic sources. But the possibilities for their use are endless. You can also use these wooden stamps for stamping or printing on paper, fabrics, wallpaper, doing temporary henna tattoos, scrapbooking, and impressing clay, tiles, ceramics, handmade soaps etc. They can be used practically anywhere; just use your imagination! I have used them in one of my Mixed Media Artwork and fabrics. I'll share the pictures of these with you in my next post.

These are carved out from various seasoned woods, including teak wood but a majority are carved of sustainably harvested brown hard Indian sheesham wood (also known as Indian Rosewood - a member of the Teak family). These stamps are carved by skilled craftsmem. Design is etched on the underside of the block. Two to three cylindrical holes are drilled into the block for free air passage and also to allow release of excess printing paste/dye. The newly carved blocks are soaked in oil, usually mustard oil for 10-15 days to soften the grains in the timber.

Block Printing is an ancient Indian art of printing, especially on fabrics & textiles, dating as far back as the 12th century. Now nearly a lost art, this handcraft work will soon be lost to modern printing techniques like automated web presses and silk screening that is replacing handmade, hand carved wood print blocks.

In an effort to promote and preserve this form of art, I came up with this post and also added some of my unused blocks for sale in my etsy shop. In my future posts I'll tell you more about this ancient art and how these blocks were used to print on textiles. Till then, have fun and Enjoy the weekend!!

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