After two days of carving our own rubber blocks, it was time to graduate to real woodblocks, Jaipur-style. We piled into our Innova caravan and headed out to Bagru for our first workshop: Indigo dye with Dabu mud resist.
Before we even began printing, I was blown away by the woodblocks. They are works of art in their own right, and it’s amazing to know that each line, each swirl, is painstakingly carved by hand. Each block is designed with cues to ensure proper alignment with the repeat patterns, and it was so interesting to start to understand how it all works.
When I signed up for the trip to Jaipur, I knew I’d love every part of it. It was a whole week that revolved around fabric – what could be better?! But there were two things that were a million times better than I had imagined. First: I was absolutely enthralled with block printing and, more than anything, loved that this class gave me some much-needed creative space to play. And second: everyone on the trip was wonderful, kind, supportive, talented, and FUN.
The combination of these two factors made every single day a treat. On the first few days of the trip, when we were designing our own blocks and printing with Jen, there were great ideas being manifested everywhere. Everyone was working on something unique, and it was pure joy to take a break from carving my own blocks, walk around, and look at the eye candy that everyone else was making.
With block printing, it’s impossible to be perfect (unless you’re Brigitte Singh…) and Jen’s attitude, which I worked to emulate, is to: accept that the imperfections will happen, plan for them in your work, and embrace them as part of what makes a handprinted textile so special.
At the beginning of October, I went on the trip of a lifetime: Ace Camps Block Printing in Jaipur, India. Day 1 in India marked our first day of class with Jen Hewett (author of Print, Pattern, Sew), who had flown in from San Francisco to teach us block printing and, of course, enjoy the beauty that is Jaipur. Spoiler alert: she’s awesome and teaches a fantastic class.
Our lodgings were a palace-turned-hotel, and my favorite feature of the venue (besides the adorable doors/doorways/alcoves) was the space allocated for our workshop. On a secluded corner of the property, we gathered two to a table and worked beneath the shade of a giant tree. It was bliss.