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Ajrakh printing is a laborious work of perfection and initially, communities like Rabari and Ahir and other Muslim communities carried this printing. It was the work of ancestors which is passed on to the current generations. Earlier the printing set used to have a huge crowd where even the weaving of fabrics and block carving happened in the same area. But later these days, the people who work on printing have lessened and only dyeing and block printing are carried out. Modern designs patterns are adapted for the good market of materials. New patterns and techniques have to be acquired to keep the market of printed fabrics in good shape. The process of printing on fabric seems easy but it is sweat work.
Firstly the cloth is stretched on the table and pinned. The printers spread the cloth. Once the cloth is properly spread on the table, the block with designs is dipped in the dye container and hit on the cloth with a whack. This is repeated a number of times until the patterns are completed on the cloth. Later the cloth is dyed in a base and allowed to dry under the sun. The cloth is rinsed and dyed again to transform it into the look of a painting of colors and themes. Before beginning to actually print on cloth the cloth undergoes several steps to become suitable for the print process for the ink or the dye to last for a long time. The cloth is soaked in water and steamed to soften it. It is washed over with oils and dried to attain a dull beige color. Once the cloth is processed it is later taken to continue with the printing process.
The blocks are finely chiselled by experienced men in this field and designs are got ready on the blocks. A block for outlines, another one for filling up the outlined designs with colors can be obtained. A set of blocks can be designed to arrange with the patterns that have to be printed on fabric. It is better when the design is pre-decided and the blocks are made. The blocks are carved with simple tools, they are carved in pairs and the designs are reverted as the image when printed must appear exact.
There are basic colors that go in while printing patterns in Ajrakh, they are black, white, red and blue. Natural dyes are prepared by using all-natural available elements. It takes days of work to attain a proper necessary color and preparation of dyes is a lengthy process as the proportions and addition of ingredients have to be maintained. The colors are stored and taken in a container in which the blocks can be immersed and the process of transforming dyes onto the fabric can be carried on. The patterns on the fabric are formed by the blocks. It seems very rapid and tranquil work to print on fabrics but only an experienced artisan can achieve that sort of result as the prints have to be aligned exactly without any flaws. The patterns are directly printed, sometimes two three-set of blocks are used to complete a pattern. The outlines are printed later which gets filled with a set of colors with a set of other blocks. The fabric is sundried once the complete print work is done. The fabric is washed with base colors when needed and washed in plain water. When a base color is not required it is simply sundried and washed in plain water and dried again. It is packed as material for table cloth, curtains and more.