All of our pieces are carefully curated in family owned factories in India and China. We take pride in all of our relationships made through Alakai, and make sure that our way of producing is as ethical and sustainable as possible, whilst continually striving for better.
Our production processes come from decades of craftsmanship which includes hand printing patterns and block carving, making each Alakai piece unique in its own way.
Block printing technique
Block printing is the ancient printing process of hand printing patterns and impressions onto textiles with the use of hand carved wooden blocks.
It is the earliest, simplest and slowest of all textile printing methods. It is a versatile and sustainable technique which uses eco-friendly dyes.
From wood carving a block to transferring an impression onto the textile surface, it is the human hand that creates tiny variations and imperfections making each print uniquely one of a kind.
It takes a talented block carver, approximately 10-12 days to carve the intricate designs into a wooden block. Some more detailed block designs can take up to one month of carving. The more colours used in a print, the more blocks will be required. The carving technique is usually a family trade, with the skills handed down from generation to generation.
The printing process
The print artisan's begin by tightly stretching out the fabric on a printing table. A colour sieve is used to hold the dyes.
Chalk or a pin will be used to mark the initial position where the print begins. The carved wooden block is immersed in the dye and pressed firmly on the cloth and struck on the back to create a solid impression. A second impression is created in the same manner so the prints align perfectly. An incredible amount of skill and precision are needed to ensure that the prints create a continuous pattern. The print master will ensure the print is continuous with no breaks. If there are multiple colours, other blocks are used and the artisan waits for the first print to dry in the sun.
A 50 metre, four colour print will take 3 experienced artisans approximately one day to print.
The post-printing process sees the fabric being steamed, washed in water, dried in the sun again, and lastly, being ironed and ready for the garment production.