Block-printing, the age-old printing technique we use to create Beastly textiles, is a beautiful, labor-intensive, multi-stage process. It is the ultimate example of slow fashion. What does block-printing look like? Let’s start with the hand-carved wooden blocks.
Block-carving is a critically important part of the printing process. Without a perfect tool to print with, the final prints will be messy and off-kilter. The block-carving skill is passed from generation to generation, allowing this stunning artform to endure even in these technology-heavy modern times.
It all starts with a sketch, drawing, or painting or more often, several of them, evolving and changing over time, slowly getting closer to the final, perfect design. Once the design is complete, I send images to the carvers to create the 8 x 8 inch blocks, one per color. So if the design only has one printed color (other than the background color) like the Jaguar, only one block is required. Designs like the Mollusk and Wild Dog include more printed colors (four and two respectively), so require more blocks. Obviously the more colors and blocks mean a more time-intensive printing process.
Each block design is printed out and traced on to the block of wood. This has to be done very carefully to ensure that the printed shapes line up and the edges are smooth. Once the design has been drawn onto the wood, the carver begins to cut away extra wood with chisels, hammers, and a small bow drill. The carved block is then cured to ensure that the wood doesn't warp and can be used over and over again.
With finished blocks, the printing can begin. Stay tuned for our next post to learn more about block-printing!
(Photos by Anchit Natha)
The Jaguar is the largest big cat native to North America and the third largest cat in the world. It has played an important role in North and South American religion, mythology, and art due to its beautiful spotted coat, ferocity, strength, and elusiveness. But being revered for millennia has not spared the jaguar from the effects of habitat loss, hunting, and conflicts with livestock. Northern jaguar numbers have dropped dramatically over the last 100 years. To ensure the survival of this extraordinary animal, the 55,000 acre Northern Jaguar Reserve was established in Sonora, Mexico in 2003 to provide a safe place for jaguars to roam, raise families, and hopefully, grow in population.
We asked Turtle Southern, Northern Jaguar Project (NJP) Coordinator, to tell us more about the northern jaguar, the NJP reserve, threats, and ways for us to help.