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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 




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