A printing technique whereby patterns are transposed on fabric via carved printing blocks. It is the elevation of most basic printing technique, no different in principle to printing with the carved potatoes or lino cuts children are taught in primary school to artistry that creates the most stunning textiles.
Originally worked by hand and thought to have been first properly developed in China, it involves dipping a carved wood block in dye and then pressing it directly onto fabric. A single block may be used repeatedly, or a series of blocks may be laid on one after another for intricate designs–for example an outline and an infill block, which work together to print the most exquisite patterns. It may also involve other dying, washing processes and mordants
Though less common, block printing with the designs hatched into metal blocks (copper) creates the finest outlines, as in the original, pre-roller toile de jouy renowned for its exquisitely produced and finely defined motifs.
See also picotage, boutis.