Block printing is also known as woodblock printing. It is an art of printing where small blocks of wood are used to print a design or text on a fabric or a paper. These blocks are handmade. This technique was originated in China and is common in East Asia. In earlier days, wooden round seals were used to set an impression on clay for printing. Block printing was first used on textile and then on paper for printing books and reading material.
Ukiyo-e is a well-known piece of art from Japan. Books from block printing were produced in the 15th century, and this art flourished in the period from 17th to 19th century. Before block printing, stamps and seals were used for printing purpose.
The earliest example of block printing to survive is from Han dynasty, where three color flowers are printed on silk fabric. This work of art is from China. Block printing was developed in Asia way before it was used in Europe. The technique of block printing is greatly influenced by Buddhism.
Block printing is majorly done on silk, linen and cotton. It was in Europe, where the block printing on silk originated. It is a time consuming yet very creative form of designing. A combination of 16 blocks and 5 colors can be used to design a fabric. One can design up to 2000 meter of fabric using a set of blocks and colors. Colors for printing have nontoxic chemicals, vegetable origin and minerals.
Block printing is commonly used to design bed sheets, pillow and cushion covers, table cloths, table napkins, diary covers, wall arts, envelops and paper bags.