How to recognize a real hand block print?

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How to recognize a real hand block print?

For many beginning years hand block printing used to be famous because of art created on fabric by hands of artist. Now it is very sad to see people forging such traditional and rare arts. Block prints are still rare but rare to find. What you can easily find is a whole market (stats based on my window shopping) full of sellers of fake block prints (which are known as screen print or computer print) who will force you and give you commitments to make you believe.

Why do people sell fake block prints? It is because of production quantity and cheap prices. An original hand block cannot be printed in bulk quantity in short period of time. Reason being, hand block printing contains many layers in process including washing of raw fabric, colour mixing, hand stamping process, drying process etc. When it comes to Indian Dabu printing process then not more than 20-25 meters of fabric can be printed in a day because Dabu printing has even more layers of process. Computerized or screen printing can produce bulk quantity way too fast and thus it is cheap as well. Anything that has a financial value or is a rare art will always be forged or copied but you need to learn how to recognize a real or original hand block print. Here are four main tricks:-

  1. A pattern that is not regular in shape and size is a real hand block print but wait is it really true?

You make a drawing of a leaf with the help of pen and paper and then you make the same leaf design on Photoshop. Difference is clear but nowadays computerization prints are also made irregular in shape and size to look like hand block (see the picture of screen print below). What you need to check is repetition of regularity and irregularity of motif patterns. You will see repetition either in regular or in irregular motifs in computerized printed fabrics but in hand block there is no repetition of any motif.1

2. Impression and consistency of colour speaks it all.

Colour consistency in all places on fabric is not at all same in hand block. Back of wood block is pressed or hammered by putting on fabric while printing so that colour can appear on fabric completely. So sometimes you will see light amount of colour on fabric and sometimes more darker. In screen printing colours are flown onto the screen and thus all patterns have uniformity of colour.3

3. Hand block printed fabric can’t be printed from both sides.

Yes it’s true that a fabric printed by hand blocks cannot be printed from both sides. Reason is that in hand made process wooden blocks are pressed or hammered on fabric strongly so that fabric can absorb colour completely and that is why the colour appears on back side of printed fabric also. So the back side cannot be printed (unless you want some modern art painting on fabric).4

4. Imperfect design is beauty.

Easiest way to catch fake hand block is by checking if a design is imperfect in colour, shape or size. Start exploring and you will learn it gradually.

In Ekaadri you will have guaranty  for fabric, printing and colours because we strongly support our traditional art of hand block printing.

Write me for any query at or share your stories in the comments.

Thanks for reading. Anushree 🙂

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