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Indian Block Printing

Martha Stewart Living Television

For thousands of years, textile makers in China and India applied patterns to fabric using ink and carved wooden blocks. John Robshaw, who owns textiles companies in the United States and India, still uses the same wood-block printing technique on his fabrics. John begins by laying fabric on top of a moist sponge and pouring a small amount of dye over the fabric. He smooths out the fabric, dips a detailed block in this makeshift ink pad, and then stamps the design onto another piece of fabric. John says carved blocks can be found at flea markets and some shops specializing in Indian goods, or you can create your own design on linoleum. Dyes are available in your local crafts stores. John also recommends prewashing and ironing the fabric prior to printing, and then after the dye is dry, ironing it again to set the colors.