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Ready Pattern Design & Trends Blog

Textile Printing - An art, a culture

by Michelle Frances

July 18, 2020 13:23 label 7 minutes read label Leave a comment

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Who said you need to be a professional for buying textile prints? People have been in a dark void regarding “textile printing” for years thinking that its just for professionals and those who are not trained for it are not supposed to be near it. All you need to do is read till the end to know all about textile prints and its mechanics.

Textile printing is an art long known to man kind for more than 1800 years, the evolution being visible. For those who don’t know what it is all about, let me give you a gist, “textile printing is a procedure of applying color to fabric in definite patterns or designs” but that’s according to the Wikipedia, for people who work on it, textile printing is a mixture of hard work and innovation laid on a piece of cloth.

The art of textile printing is interesting, involving and engaging, it requires precision and peculiarity. All you see around is prints, the carpet on your floor, the trapestree on your wall, your bed sheet with all those fabulous colors and design are all a result of textile printing. You don’t need to be a professional to choose the right print, all you need to know is your desire for it. There are several colors to choose from and designs? You can design for yourself, or if you do not have the time and idea for it, some professional can do it for you, as you want. There are also several sites where you can upload an image of your own design and choose on which fabric you would want it to be oriented. Also there are various swatch and print books which give you an idea on the gravity of fabric and colors.

Textile printing- a tradition

This was first introduced in the year 220 in the East Asian countries probably China. This tradition passed on to generations after generations, countries after countries. Europe, France and Britain were all active exporters of fabrics that were washable and could hold more colors to it. The process of printing has several steps to it which is out of the reach of this article but the main steps would include:

  1. Treatment of the fabric before applying color to it
  2. Preparing colors and the design you opted for
  3. Application of the design using printing methods
  4. Drying and fixing the print with hot air

There are also different methods of printing; to name a few would be hand block, machine, screen, digital printing etc. Digital textile printing being faster than traditional textile printing has more production but who beats aesthetics? People are slowly forgetting and getting lost in the digital world because it is basically easier, but there are factories that still produce traditional textiles in its purest form, one such example would be a small scale industry that is situated in the foot hills of Darjeeling- small set up run by Tibetan refugees spreads across a land of 4 acres.

This set up was established on October 2, 1959 when hordes of Tibetans had to leave their home after the Chinese invasion and were in search of a land to start their livelihood, luckily the government of Darjeeling donated its land to the community. Ms. Gyalo Thondup at that time made a committee of 10 people, which amongst were Tenzin Norgay to create a chance of employment for their people. Ms. Gyalo who had knowledge on weaving and knitting slowly expanded her boundaries and learnt techniques of dyeing and painting. She started imparting her knowledge and trained both men and women, which later led to mass production of handkerchiefs, carpets and pouches with a mark of Tibetan tradition which is now exported to 36 different countries.

Though, her industry still remains to be small-scaled but provides accommodation to 660 people now. The refugee industry may not be equipped with the latest technical and digital inventories still provides great satisfaction and longevity of their products. This particular Tibetan market is situated quite away from the main town of Darjeeling but still attracts a lot of tourists and people who are fond of tradition and textiles.

Nevertheless, textile printing can be a great start-up for someone who is looking for some industry to work on. It has low cost and again you need not be a professional, just some research and a lot of interest.

About the author

Michelle Frances


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