When it comes to traditional forms of art and craft, India is indeed like a treasure chest you really don’t know what you will find in it. Each of our states has such diverse forms of crafts that one can spend a lifetime getting inspired and each of us can pick up a completely different aspect of the same. So starting this month, I will devote some posts in a month to "crafts from the Indian states". December reminds me of Rajasthan, because last year around this time we were holidaying there. Rajasthan has something special about it, the colors are so enchanting. Everywhere you look there is some design, pattern or skill that you can take back home with you. Be it the blue pottery, tie and dye, puppet making, the art of tattoo making or tying a turban. There is something for everyone. Block printing is another craft which is extremely popular at Rajasthan. Whenever I have gone to Jaipur I have always come back with lovely blocks in all shapes and sizes. Though you can get the same at Delhi too (Karol Bagh, Dilli Haat and almost all craft shops keep them), I still like picking them from Jaipur because of the range they offer. Though there are other states in India where block printing is done (Gujarat & Bengal) but the sizes of the patterns are bigger there and I am quite the “miniature and intricate” loyalist. For those who are not into crafts and don’t know what I am talking about, in Hand Block printing the artist uses wooden blocks which have designs carved on them. These are dipped in color and then pressed on fabrics to get the impression. The colors used are usually vegetable dyes and they use remarkable combinations like shocking pink and orange, turquoise and parrot green. Lots of floral patterns, traditional symbols like the ambi (paisley), elephant, etc are used. Now, the actual art is quite labour intensive requiring a certain degree of expertise and not all of us are brave enough to try it out. My purpose here is to see how we can adapt the art to suit us and create our own art pieces, quickly. Here are some ideas that we call all use :
- Simple poster paint impressions of the block in any color look lovely on letterheads, envelopes and wrapping sheets. These days there are lots of contemporary designs being made too. So take your pick.
- Metallic fabric color impressions and some sequins (Use fabric glue) can definitely add drama to your table napkins, runners, curtains, etc
- To give a rustic look to your balcony wall. Paint one wall with terracotta snowcem and use white enamel paint to do block imprints across the wall. Cheap and creative way to give your outdoors a completely new look.
- Simple black prints with poster color on white handmade paper and framed with saffron or maroon background will look marvelous on your wall.
- Another awesome thing for those of you who are feeling very crafty is to try and make your own tiles with clay and use blocks to create different patterns. Traditional motifs look lovely when pressed in clay and fired.
Leaving you with some of my creations.