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Block Printing Vs. Screen Printing: What's the Difference?

Block Printing Vs. Screen Printing: What's the Difference?

Posted by The Ichcha Team on 3rd Jul 2024

What's the Difference Between Block Printing and Screen Printing?

Block printing and screen printing are two types of fabric printing. While block printing involves carving a design onto a block (e.g., wood) and transferring the inked design to fabric, screen printing uses a stencil and ink forced through a mesh screen to create the design.

Block printing is manual and highly detailed, so each pattern is one-of-a-kind. But screen printing allows for more colors and complex designs, making it better for mass production. And that's why you'd hardly ever find a unique screen-printed fabric unless it was custom-made just for you.

At Ichcha, we are all about block-printed fabrics! With block-printing, we're able to offer every customer a unique pattern they're sure to love. But that's not all. We care about the environment. Our block printing technique uses water-based and natural dyes, making it more eco-friendly than the chemicals used in most massed-produced screen printed fabrics.

We understand every little action goes a long way when it comes to the health of Mother Earth, and we know there are others who feel the same way. By providing them with clothing, napkins, pillows, and other fabrics made through eco-friendly processes, we could all make a bigger impact together.

If you're wondering whether that's all there is to block printing, you're in for a surprise.

Here are FIVE reasons why we prefer block printing over screen printing:

1. Longevity

Block printing is known for its longevity. The ink applied through block printing penetrates deeper into the fabric, creating a design that can withstand multiple washes without fading significantly.

While screen printing can also produce long-lasting prints, the longevity may be slightly lower than block printing because it involves a thinner layer of ink that sits on the fabric's surface.

2. Environmental Impact

block printing

Block printing usually has a lower environmental impact than screen printing. How? For starters, the wooden blocks used in block printing are reusable and biodegradable. Also, at Ichcha, every step of our block printing process is done with the environment in mind. So we use only water-based or natural dyes.

Although eco-friendly AZO-free dyes can be used for screen printing, most designers opt for the cheaper, synthetic inks. So there's a good chance what you'll get won't be as sustainable as you'd like.

3. Supporting an Ancient Technique

At Ichcha, we value artisans and their love for their craft. Block printing is an ancient technique that is manual and highly detailed; it requires great skill that is more or less overshadowed nowadays by machined mass production processes. 

For these artisans, block printing is a tradition passed down from their ancestors as an art. And they, too, wish to pass it on to their children. With such history behind it, block printing is a sensational practice you just want to keep alive.

4. Unique Outcomes

One major difference between block printing and screen printing is that block printing typcially results in unique outcomes because it involves the manual application of ink through carved blocks, unlike screen printing which is mass produced. Variations in pressure, ink application, and block alignment can lead to subtle differences in each block print, giving it a handmade and rustic charm. Sometimes, it's nothing but a beautiful mistake!

Screen printing is more precise and consistent, and that's why it's best suited for mass production. As a result, it typically doesn't produce the same level of individuality that block printing offers.

screen printing

5. More Freedom to Get Creative

Block printing allows for creativity and experimentation. Artisans can easily modify the design on the block or create custom blocks for specific patterns. It's flexible since it's something they do with their hands. They can choose to press one part of the block harder for the one print and press a different angle for the other. Or just chip off one part of the block. Each action will result in a beautiful imprint different from the last.

The tactile nature of block printing enables artists to explore different textures and layering techniques.

Screen printing can be highly precise and is well-suited for intricate and multicolored designs. However, it is limited in the range of textures and effects it can produce compared to block printing.

So, there you have it—differences between block printing and screen printing and why the former is preferred.

Shop Unique Block-Printed Pieces

If you are eco-conscious and mindful with your purchases, check out our collection of handmade block-printed fabrics. From adorable block-printed dresses and scarfs to curtains and napkins, find a wide range of eco-friendly block-printed fabrics when you shop Ichcha.

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