Block printing specialists - online craft supplies, workshops & textile holidays

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Jaipur – What to do in Jaipur

We have come to the end of our series of emails about the wonders and beauties of Jaipur and we thought we would finish it off with a more general overview of the city, what to see and what to do when you go and visit.

It would be impossible to do a city like Jaipur justice in one email when it comes to suggesting places to visit and things to do, but we will pick out just a few of the things that Jaipur is famous for and hopefully that will interest you enough to explore further and then book a trip with us to see it all in person.

Places to visit
Jaipur City Palace

The City Palace is a splendid example of the foresight that Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II had. As the founder of Jaipur, he took pains to create a magnificent walled city that encloses marvels such as the City Palace. The palace is a beautiful blend of Mughal and Rajput styles of architecture. The previous royal family continues to reside in one section of the palace. Located within the walls of the City Palace, Chandra Mahal is a seven-storeyed tower. However, the ground and first floors have now been given over for the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum.

Hawa Mahal

The Palace of Winds was constructed in 1799 by the poet-king Sawai Pratap Singh. The five-storied structure is made of pink sandstone and has 356 intricately carved jharokhas (windows). It was designed for the women of the royal family to sit in privacy while observing life on the street.

Jaigarh Fort

Of the three hilltop forts that overlook the city of Jaipur, Jaigarh is perhaps the most magnificent of them all. About 15 kilometres from Jaipur, it was built by Sawai Jai Singh II sometime in the early 18th century amidst the arid, rocky and thorn-scrub covered hills. Despite its ancient construction, it still retains most of its imposing citadel appearance. Visitors can see the world’s largest canon – Jaiban, at the fort.

Things to do
Block Printing

Jaipur is world famous for block printing and you can’t honestly believe I would write a newsletter about what to do in Jaipur and not include it!


Jaipur is renowned for its many famous handloom items and crafts. The famous shopping spots are Rajasthali (the Rajasthan Government showroom on MI Road), Johari Bazaar, MI road, Nehru Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar, and stalls at Bari and Choti Chaupurs. The markets are generally closed on Sundays.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

When it comes to exploring the beautiful landscape of Rajasthan, ballooning is the way to go. Soar above the vibrant Pushkar festival and treat yourself to the breath-taking views. Enjoy the beauty of India’s ‘Pink City’ and absorb its colours, flavours and sounds as you take in magnificent forts, palaces and bewitching architecture that Jaipur is known for.

I hope this gives you a taste of what you can see and find in the beautiful city of Jaipur. As I said at the start of this email, this barely scratches the surface of what there is to see and do in Jaipur and, if a trip to India’s Pink City is of interest, then I would urge you to explore more about India and Jaipur. We would love it if you decide to join us on any of our Colouricious Trips and would be more than happy to discuss them with you and answer any questions you may have.

We are moving onto the fourth and final installment of Kim’s trip to Jaipur. Just click on the image to be taken to her blog.

Kim’s thoughts on her Colouricious trip to Jaipur – Part 4

If you are interested in joining us on a trip to Jaipur, then please visit our website and reserve your place. We have spaces left on our trip in December this year plus all of our trips in 2018. Pick the time and itinerary that suits you and we look forward to seeing you.

Wooden Printing Blocks – How they are made

Wooden Printing Blocks

Wooden printing blocks are made in India and are hand carved. The wood used is called Sheesham but more commonly known as North Indian Rosewood. Sheesham wood is a slow growing but durable wood and is native to the Indian sub-continent. The wood is cut into slices resembling pizzas and then filed and sanded until completely flat and smooth. The surface is then covered with a mixture of chalk, Fevicol which is like PVA glue. This is what gives the blocks the white finish on the carved side.

The design for the block is first drawn onto a piece of paper and then transferred onto the white side of the wood and tacked into place. The pattern is transferred onto the wood by drawing and piercing the paper sheet to create an image that is ready to be carved.

The carving process is all completed by hand using small chisels and bow drills. The larger, more industrial type of blocks also have holes drilled along the back of the block to release any excess dye or paint that may have accumulated in the grooves of the block that could end up on the fabric by mistake if the holes weren’t there.

Once the design is complete the blocks are soaked in oil for up to a week to make them more durable and to avoid them cracking in the dry environment of block printing. 

They say that pictures paint a thousand words, and in this case this is so true. Watch the video below of the carvers at work to see every step they take to create the wooden printing blocks.

Just click on the video to watch.

Wooden printing blocks 

Colouricious Holidays host a wonderful block printing holiday to Jaipur where you can see wooden printing blocks being made and also learn how to block print your own fabric. If you love textiles and fabric printing and all things creative, then join us on our next block printing holiday. Discover more at 




Jaipur – Textile Printing Techniques

Jaipur – Textile Printing Techniques

The textile printing techniques in Jaipur are closely linked to villages and traditions with each village having its own different designs and history. In today’s email we are going to focus on two different designs that you will come across on our trips to Jaipur.

Dabu Printing

The Process of Dabu Printing starts with the preparation of mud resist the clay is prepared by finely sieving it. Calcium hydroxide (Chuna in Hindi), naturally pounded wheat chaff (Beedan in hindi,clay-lime-gum-insect eaten wheat mixture), and gum (gound in hindi) are the main ingredients to make the mud resist. The dug out mud from the dry pond is soaked in water in a separate tank overnight. The mud resist is freshly prepared before every printing.

The mixture of beedan and gound are along with mud are doughed to make a sticky paste. The special resist paste technique is commonly known as ‘dhabu’. Dhabu’ acts as resist and prevents the penetration of dye during dyeing on areas covered with ‘dhabu’. This technique is used only for creating patterns with indigo blue. Since the resist paste ‘dhabu’ is thick and sticky hence finer definitions cannot be achieved. It is applied with wooden block on the fabric and saw dust is sprinkled over it. Saw dust has two major functions at this stage-first to absorb water from the Dhabu paste and give additional layers of resist. The saw dust also acts as a binder which prevents color penetration while dyeing. The area where clay and sawdust mixture is present does not catch the dye and remains colorless.

After printing, the fabric is left outside in the sun for drying before dipping in indigo tanks. Small printing table- “patias” are used for dhabu printing and the printer applies dhabu sitting on the floor. It is done mostly by women and old printers, who cannot stand for a long time. The art of making ‘dhabu’paste is kept secret and the recipe is taught only to daughters-in-law. Every family has its own recipe to make the paste.

Bagru Printing

The traditional printing process in sanganer and Bagru can be described as follows:

Scouring– locally called ‘Hari Sarana’
The fabric that comes from mills of handloom sector contains natural and added impurities such as starch, oil and dust. To get goods and even penetration of colours, the fabric is boiled with soap and desizing agents. Traditionally cow dung was used for scouring. Cow dung contains a lot of alkali, Cow dung and water are mixed together and the cloth (running cloth ‘than’cut in required length) is then left dipped in that paste overnight. The process of washing is a long one, generally carried out by the ladies. The next day, the clothes are washed and spread on large open grounds. Before the clothes dry completely, more water is sprinkled on them and thus they are made wet again. This process of sprinkling water and drying is repeated 5-6 times a day. This procedure is carried out unit the cloth becomes white and bright. Generally, as per requirement, this process in done for 3 to 6 days. After this the cloth is washed with pure water. Since it is tedious and time consuming, soaps have replaced the cow dung in this process.

Tannin- locally called ‘Peela Karana’
‘Harda’Washed fabric is treated with myrobalan (harda) which contains tannic acid. Tannic acid attracts the mordants, which are applied with hand woodblock. ‘Harda’ powder is mixed with water, and the cloth is submerged in it, squeezed and dried flat on the ground. Once the fabric is dried, it is folded and beaten with a wooden mallet to remove excess ‘harda’ powder and open up the fiber to accept the dye. This process in known as ‘peela karna’. The tannic acid of  myrobalam (harda) forms black colour with ferrous ( syahee )which is traditionally made by reaction of old rusted horse shoe nails with jaggery.

Printing (mordanting)- locally called ‘chapai’
The fabric is printed with two mordant- ferrous (‘syahee’) made out of rusted horse shoe nails, and alum (‘begar’). Usually ferrous is printed with the outline block (‘rekh’). As it immediately shows a black impression, it is easy for another printer to place the filler block (‘datta’) with beggar or alum. The background block (Gudh’) comes later.

Ageing-locally called ‘Sukhai’
The printed fabric is left hanging at the printing areas for at least three-four days so that the prints(mordant paste) penetrates into the fiber structure. Longer the ageing better is the result.

Washing- locally called ‘Dhulai’
The printed fabric is washed in running water. It is important to understand the need of running/flowing water. While washing the printed fabric in running water the excess mordants come out and get washed away with the flow of water without getting stuck back to the cloth. Water shortage has forced the printers to cut short this process due to which, the colors do not get fixed up properly and later “bleed” and people think that natural dyes are not fast.

Dyeing (fixing of color) – locally called ‘Ghan Rangai’
Dyeing is a process in which the dye reacts with two mordants at two different locations on the same print giving two different shades of colors. As mentioned earlier ‘alizarin’ is used as the dye throughout Rajasthan. The colours obtained in conjunction with the two mordants are red (with alum) and block (with ferrous). Dyeing is carried out in large copper vessels (‘tambri’) which are heated by wood fire. Alizarin is filled in small cloth-bags (‘potali’) and dipped in the vessel. The quantity of alizarin dye is calculated by the experienced dyer. ‘Dhawadi phool’, a local flower is boiled along with alizarin to avoid patches and staining. Once the dyed fabric is ready (usually it takes half-an-hour), it is taken out of the copper vessel and left on the ground for drying.

Sun-bleaching– locally called ‘Tapai’
Alizarin often”over dyes” the unprinted area giving an off-white or yellow tinge all over the fabric which makes the print look dull. In order to make the ground look ‘white’ again the fabric is sun-bleached. In this process the fabric is laid flat on a river bed, a mild solution of cow dung and water is sprinkled over the fabric. This process is repeated again when the fabric is dried. The interaction of alkali (of cow dung) and thermal heat (sun ray) bleach the ground color making it look white again. Sometimes this process in carried out before the tannin (‘harda’) treatment but due to shortage of water this process is cut short and these days the ‘off- white’ color of the background has become a part of natural dyeing process.

Flora and Paul’s thoughts on a Colouricious trip to Jaipur

Flora and Paul joined us in January and kindly took the time to write to us to tell us about their experiences.

I now know the full meaning of magical. It’s a trip to the beautiful exciting and vibrant city of Jaipur. My husband and I travelled with a delightful group of ladies [and three husbands] Jamie and Kim arranged an experience to astound all textile enthusiasts. We tried our hand at block, indigo and even mud printing. Breaking only to be tempted to try Indian delicacies with spiced tea.

A guided walking tour around Sanganer provided a window on the lives and work of the block carvers and of course we were all tempted to buy some wonderful wooden blocks.

Another day found us up close and friendly with some special elephants. We were able not only to feed them a boot full of bananas but we also painted their amble sides.

Visits to museums especially the Anokhi museum and the City Palace were superb. Many of us had garments made for us after visiting one of several fabric stores even one purchase of a wedding outfit.

The Blue factory also provided some lovely pottery to further strain my suitcase. On a free afternoon we took a tuc tuc into the Pink City to visit the textile bazaars then walked through the flower and spice markets.

We also had time to join Jamie around the hotel poolside where we could share our experiences of the day and indulge in some art work in our travel journals. The hotel owners – Colonel and Mrs Singh could not have been more welcoming. Mrs Singh even showed us how to put on and wear a sari as one of the group had brought one with her to wear at our leaving dinner.

This is but a very tiny portion of the memories which I took with me suffice to say the Jamie and her team have shown me a country full of wonder and surprises. India has captured my heart and not surprisingly We have booked a return trip.

Thank you so much Jamie
Flora and Paul

As we mentioned last week, Kim Thittichai joined us on our Jaipur trip in January and kindly took the time to write about her experience with us in her blog. Today we have part 2 of her story. Please click on the image below to read all about it.

If you are interested in joining us on a trip to Jaipur, then please visit our website and reserve your place. We have spaces left on our trip in December this year plus all of our trips in 2018. Pick the time and itinerary that suits you and we look forward to seeing you.

Jaipur – History of Block Printing

Jaipur – History of Block Printing

Records show that as far back as the 12th century, several centers in the south, on the western and eastern coasts of India became renowned for their excellent printed cotton. On the southeastern coast the brush or kalam (pen) was used, and the resist applied by the same method. In the medieval age printing and dyeing of cottons was specially developed in Rajasthan. In Gujarat the use of wooden blocks for printing was more common. Tents were made from printed fabrics and soon they became necessary part of royal processions. The seasons largely influenced the integration of the highly creative processes of weaving, spinning, dyeing and printing.

Festivals also dictated this activity. Block printing is a special form of printing first developed in China. The earliest known example with an actual date is a copy of the Diamond Sutra from 868 A.D (currently in the British Museum), though the practice of block printing is probably about two thousand years old Trade in cotton cloth is said to have existed between India and Babylon from Buddha’s time. Printed and woven cloths traveled to Indonesia, Malaya and the Far East. In the 17th century, Surat was established as a prominent center for export of painted and printed calicos, covering an extensive range in quality. Cheaper printed cloth came from Ahmedabad and other centers, and strangely enough Sanganer was not such a famous center for printing as it is today.

Today India has many major printing centres with their own block making skills and history. Wood blocks are largely used for printing fabrics for costumes, floor coverings, bedspreads and sometimes even wall hangings or prayer rugs. Blocks are also used to transfer designs, which were used by the embroiderer as a guideline for embroidery; for example in – Chikankaari of Lucknow, Kashmiri shawls and Pheran; embroidered yolks in Rajasthan and Gujarat.9 Another technique where blocks are used to print the basic design before the real work started was tie and dye or baandhani from Kutch.

Next week we will be exploring the Textile Printing Techniques of Jaipur.

If you are interested in joining us on a trip to Jaipur, then please visit our website and reserve your place. We have spaces left on our trip in December this year plus all of our trips in 2018. Pick the time and itinerary that suits you and we look forward to seeing you.

Kim Thittichai joined us on our trip to Jaipur in January this year and she has very kindly put pen to paper (or is that finger to keyboard), to write up this lovely four part blog on her experiences on the trip. We will be featuring a new part every week, so please click on the image below, sit back and read what it is like to be on a Colouricious trip to Jaipur.

Kim’s thoughts on her Colouricious trip to Jaipur – Part 1

Learn, Create, Be Happy!

kind regards
Jamie Malden

March – Jaipur Month

Jaipur – The Pink City

For the month of March, we are mixing up our newsletter content to give you information on one of the wonderful cities that we travel to on a Colouricious holiday. Jaipur was the first location we ever visited on a Colouricious tour so it made sense for us to start at the very beginning with this beautiful city.
Over the next month, we are going to look at:

  • The History of Block Printing in Jaipur
  • Textile Printing Techniques of Jaipur
  • How the Wooden Printing Blocks are made
  • What to do in Jaipur

But first off, a little bit of history and information about the city itself.

History of Jaipur

Jaipur city is located on the eastern border of the Thar Desert. It is popularly known as “Pink City” and is one of the best architecturally designed cities of India. The city is located at a height of 1417 feet above sea level. Jaipur is surrounded by the Aravali hills from three sides which safeguard it from the desert. In the North, Jaipur shares its borders with Sikar and Mahendragarh districts. In the south, it is surrounded by Tonk district, in the east by Alwar, Dausa and Sawai Madhopur districts and in the west by Nagaur and Ajmer districts.

From east to west, Jaipur district is spread over 180 km while the length from north to south is about 110 km. Banganga and Sabi Rivers are the main sources of water for the district.

Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan which was founded by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II on November 18, 1727. Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II was a Kachwaha Rajput who ruled Jaipur from 1699-1743. Prior to Jaipur, his capital was Amber which is 11 km away from Jaipur. With the increase of population, the King felt the need to shift the capital city. Another reason to shift the capital was the scarcity of water in Amber region.

The King was concerned about the security of the city and hence, he utilised his scientific and cultural interests to build it. He employed Vidyadhar Bhattacharya, a Brahmin scholar in Mathematics and Science from Bengal to help design the city’s architecture. Vidyadhar referred to ancient Indian literature on astronomy, books of Ptolemy and Euclid in order to help the King.

The construction of the city started in 1727 and it took around 4 years for the completion of the major palaces and roads. Principles of Vastu Shastra were greatly followed while designing the city.

Jaipur city is counted among pre-modern cities of the country because of the evenness of its streets. The streets are divided into six sectors each separated by around 34 m (111 feet) wide roads. These sectors are termed as urban quarters which are further divided by interconnecting streets.

The city was divided into nine blocks, two of which allocated for state buildings and palaces. The remaining seven blocks were allotted to the general public to live in. From the security point of view, huge walls were constructed around the city along with seven strong gates. It is believed that the architecture of the city was the best of its time in the Indian subcontinent.

Visit of the Prince of Wales

Credit: Columbia University, NY

In 1876, the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur city. To celebrate the visit and to welcome the Prince, the whole city was painted in pink which is how the city got its beautiful nickname, “Pink City”. Continuing the trend and keeping the charm of the historic era, all the state buildings and historical places of Jaipur city are painted in a similar pink colour.

Jaipur Today

The city of Jaipur serves as a vast business centre with all the modern facilities available. The historical places situated in the city attract tourists from different parts of the country and abroad. These places include Nahargarh Fort, Amer Fort, Jaigarh Fort and Moti Doongri.

Block printing is one of the major arts practiced in the Jaipur district. A small village, Bagru, 35 km from Jaipur in the southwest is famous for block printing. The people of this region belong to Chippa community and have practised this art for more than 350 years. Using their native methods of dyeing and printing, block printing is done using colours like Alizarin, bright yellow and indigo blue on cotton fabric.

On Monday we will carry on and explore the History of Block Printing in Jaipur. Block Printing is obviously close to my heart and I look forward to sharing the history with you.

If the description of the Pink City has tempted you to join us on one of our trips, then head over to our website where you can read about all of the holidays we are running for 2017 and 2018.

Learn, Create, Be Happy!

kind regards
Jamie Malden

Contact Us
close slider