I have always liked working with my hands. I tried my hand at pottery when I was in my teens, and even though it was a short-lived attempt and most of what I made bore little or no resemblance to what they were supposed to be, I enjoyed every bit of it. It was only after I returned to the US a few years ago that I began to think about learning another craft. I enjoyed my “day job”, which was doing research on Southeast Asian art history, but I felt that I needed a different kind of a challenge. After thinking about several options, I thought I would give sewing and block-printing a try. Sewing napkins, coasters and pillow covers did not seem as complicated as, say, a blouse or a dress. Block printing with textile paints was also an interesting craft to learn, with both materials and information fairly easy to come by. Encouraged and supported by my husband, I thought I would take it one step further: set up a company that will sell small batches of handmade home linen. I bought a sewing machine and some vintage wood blocks and set to work. YouTube videos were a godsend! Learning the necessary skills was certainly not a smooth process, but I started to get the hang of it. I enjoyed every bit of it. Well, most of it. It was frustrating when those pesky mitered corners didn’t quite line up the way they were supposed to. Anyway. It was so much fun to choose fabrics, paints, matching thread, and numerous other craft supplies, find vintage wood blocks, and then put together patterns and colors for the products. All the woodblocks I bought were single pieces and so if I wanted to fill in sections I did them by hand.[i] After trying out fabric paints, I experimented with dyes, which was a more complicated process. It was both comical and frustrating to watch my early dyed prints disappear like magic before my eyes when I washed the fabric. My husband then found me a good book (Color by Design by Ann Johnston) which was super helpful in getting the process right. My friends and family sportingly accepted my early experiments, no matter how they turned out. Finally, convinced that I could give this a shot, I registered the company in September 2019. My husband who is also my tech support has been working hard on getting my website up and also increasing the company’s presence on social media. And now it has all finally come together. Ta-da! I am looking forward to this new chapter in my life and to creating fun things for you all to view and (hopefully) to buy!
Here is some information on woodblock printing in India, with a brief summary of the process.
[i] Each design typically has several pieces made for it, one for the outline, and several others for different sections of the design. This gives the option for the printer to introduce multiple colors into one design. For example, a picture in this brief write-up shows 6 different pieces for a single design: https://www.saffronmarigold.com/blog/wood-block-printing-fabric-india/
Most vintage blocks that I could find had only single pieces so if I wanted more than one color, I had to fill it in by hand, which I quite enjoy.