Saagwan - Teak is a tropical hardwood of high quality and is usually purchased from Dharampur village. It is purchased during the winter months as low temperatures prevent it from cracking. The wood is stored in a cool corner of the house.
Pigment dyes - The blocks are dipped in a wide range of color pigments to create prints on the fabric.
Sunlit bond paper - It is used to draw the designs on them.
Nadi ki Reti - Sand from the river is mixed with water to create slurry and is added to the millstone called 'Kakada'.
White poster paint - It is used to coat the wood blocks and helps in increasing the visibility of the design.
Tracing paper - The original design is transferred on to the tracing paper and is used to transfer the design onto the wooden block. The tracing paper is attached to the block and the design is chiseled on to the block.
Water - It is mixed with river sand to create slurry for the millstone.
The waste normally comprises of wooden chips and splinters. These are collected and sold to scrap dealers on a weekly or monthly basis. The scrap is then used by ply-making industry or burnt as fuel.
Tools & Technology
Chorsi / Polada -It is a chisel and is a carpentry tool use in carving wood.
Thashya chorsi - It is a flat shaped chisel.
Butha chorsi - It is a blunt chisel where soft pressure needs to be applied.
Jaadi chorsi - A thick chisel used in carving out larger chunks of wood.
Patli chorsi - It is a thin chisel used for delicate and intricate chiseling work.
Kuntiya chorsi - A curve shaped chisel that is used to carve curved portions in the design.
Kalam chorsi - It is a flat shaped chisel and is used to carve straight lines in the wood.
Kamthi - It is a drill used to create air vents in the wooden blocks for trapped air to escape.
Thapi - A heavy weighted hammer that is made from a long rectangular piece of wood.
Saw - A carpentry tool used to cut the saagwan wood into appropriate sized blocks.
Aedi - It a solid tool used to carve out a form in the blocks.
Kakada - It is a millstone used to polish and shape the surface of the wood block.
Lissa - It is a polishing stone and is used to give a fine polish to the wood surface.
Mekhana - These are metal pins and are used to attach the tracing paper holding the design to the wood block.
Thapadi - It is a small wooden hammer and is used when moderate pressure needs to applied. It is used when carving the intricate portions of the design.
The purchased wood is seasoned and then cut into geometric shapes with a broad chisel. This is an approximate shape of the final design. Pieces with cracks, holes, wormholes and other defects are carefully avoided to avoid distortion or breakages.
The 'Kakada' stone is placed on the floor. The sand is sieved and spread on the stone along with some water, forming slurry. The surface of the wood is sharpened with the help of a millstone and the side that needs polishing is faced towards the millstone. The piece of wood is rubbed in a circular motion with pressure applied with both hands. After the surface is smooth, the block is left to dry. Later, it is again polished using 'Lissa' stone to attain a superior working surface.
Applying white paint
This step is also known as 'Khadi lagana'. White poster paint is mostly used in this process and is spread evenly on the surface of the block. White paint has a tendency to dry faster than traditional 'Khadi' and is also much cheaper in price. The white coat of paint is applied to the block to increase the visibility of the design.
Tracing the design
The original design is transferred to a tracing paper. This is pinned onto the block with the help of metal pins. With the help of chisels and thin pointed tools, the design is traced onto the wooden block. The small wooden hammer known as 'Thapadi', is used to work with the chisels, as small amounts of pressure is only needed to create the intricate and delicate portions of the design.
The negative spaces in the design are drilled out to aid in the final carving procedure. Tools such as 'Kamthi', 'Thapadi' and 'Chorsi' are used in this stage. This process takes almost a day to complete.
For certain designs, drilling is not required and the carving is done right after the design is traced. The carving process requires maximum skill and precision, and the process can take as long as a day or even two. The larger negative spaces are carved out first followed by the interior portions of the design that are carved using different sized chisels. The two opposite edges are always carved out one after the other. A heavy hammer known as 'Thapi' is used as this stage, to enable the chisels to penetrate deeper into the wood. The pressure of the Thapi and chisel create depth in the design.
If the design is intricate, air gets trapped in the spaces of the block when it is being used to stamp the design onto the fabric. This causes air bubbles in the dye, which does not allow the block to print properly leading to uneven spaces in the printed pattern. Therefore, the vents in the blocks are necessary to help the air bubbles escape. These holes are drilled through the flat spaces in the design and are also drilled through the centre of the block's height, through and through.
The kamthi tool is used and this process involves two or three people. One artisan clamps the block between his feet and holds the kamthi in his hands. The other holds the two ends of the cord attached to the kamthi and moves it to and fro. This rotates the drill bit. First, the holes through the height of the block are drilled and then the holes through the flat surfaces are drilled.