Part 3: Hand Block Printing

People are always naturally curious as to how others come up with their business ideas and get them off the ground – we thought it would be fun to share our story with you, in chapters – to bring you along on the journey of how Andsara came about…


We mentioned in our last post that we’d come back to hand block printing – it truly is a magical process to watch and we wish you could all see it for yourselves some day!

Traditional designs are sketched out and traced onto raw wooden blocks, the relief of which is then hand chiseled to create a ‘stamp’. Traditionally used with hand-mixed natural dyes, or commonly nowadays with modern pigments, the stamp is then pressed into a ‘stamp pad’ – layers of cotton that ink is soaked into. A light dab on the stamp pad is followed swiftly by a powerful stamp onto stretched cotton that is pinned on to dedicated printing tables that are typically between three and five meters long. The process is repeated the whole way down the table, and the sheet of fabric taken out to dry in the sun upon completion.

A dedicated colour master will mix dyes/pigments by sight beforehand, and while varying techniques / processes require different actions, the drying and fabric washing/boiling parts of the process are often important in developing the resulting colours. Because of this – the importance of India’s dry heat in the process – it’s also important to remember that because of monsoon season (between June and September) block printing is a pretty seasonal affair (we learnt this the hard way when our initial order was delayed because we had taken too long to send it over!)

Each colour you see in a print (never more than 7 we are told as this is a limit in relation to maintaing the integrity of the design and fabric) is applied using its own dedicated stamp. That literally means a print with five different colours, is made with five separate but perfectly matched hand-carved wooden blocks to create a seamless pattern – incredible, really!

Each resulting sheet of fabric, and products made out of it are therefore entirely unique. We always like to say that there is beauty in the imperfection of our products because they are entirely hand made and presented – from the very first step in the printing process, down to the wrapping and packing of each order by our stock manager.

If you’d like to see some more of the snaps we took of the block printing process during our visits to India, head over to our >> Block Printing page <<