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Recipe for Block Printing with Cutch and Iron Acetate Pastes on Wool Fabric

Materials Needed:

  • Low-density polypropylene block

  • Adhesive velvet for coating the block

  • Cutch extract

  • Iron acetate paste

  • Wool fabric or felt


  1. Prepare the Printing Blocks:

  • Cut a piece of low-density polypropylene to the desired size for your block.

  • Coat the polypropylene block with adhesive velvet. This helps in evenly distributing the dye paste and gives a cleaner print.

  • Ensure the block is fully coated and cut any shapes if desired for specific patterns.

  1. Prepare the Cutch Extract Paste:

  • Mix the cutch extract with a bit of water to achieve a paint-like consistency suitable for block printing. Adjust the thickness as necessary, using more or less water.

  1. Prepare the Iron Acetate Paste:

  • Mix iron acetate with a small amount of water to create a thick paste. This paste will react with the cutch extract to form darker shades or rust effects where they overlap.

  1. Printing Process:

  • Lay the wool fabric or felt flat on a table. Tape it down if necessary to prevent it from moving.

  • Apply the cutch extract paste to the velvet-coated block and stamp onto the fabric. Ensure even coverage and press firmly for consistent results.

  • Allow the first print to dry slightly but not completely, as the slightly damp fabric will better receive the second paste.

  • Apply the iron acetate paste to a second block and stamp over the areas printed with cutch, as well as new areas if desired. The overlapping areas will develop a rust or black shade due to the chemical reaction between the cutch tannins and the iron.

  • Carefully monitor the consistency and absorption, adjusting your technique or the fluidity of the paste as needed for even printing.

  1. Fixation Process:

  • Allow the printed fabric to dry completely.

  • Steam the fabric for a minimum of one hour to fix the dyes. This process ensures the dyes are permanently set into the wool fibers, enhancing their durability and color fastness.

  1. Cleanup and Maintenance:

  • Clean the blocks thoroughly immediately after use to prevent the buildup of dried paste, which can affect future prints.

  • Ensure all tools and surfaces are washed to avoid unintended dye transfer in future projects.

Description: This block printing technique utilizes homemade polypropylene blocks coated with adhesive velvet to apply natural dye pastes onto wool fabrics. The method involves sequential layering of cutch and iron acetate pastes, which react chemically to produce varied color effects, including deeper shades and rust-like appearances where the pastes overlap. This process not only offers a creative outlet but also utilizes the natural properties of the materials to achieve eco-friendly textile designs.

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