Pattern Spotlight: Block Print

by Magnolia
Published on January 15, 2024

Block print bedding from Magnolia dresses a bed and text overlay reads "Pattern Spotlight: Block Print."

I’ve always been a minimalist at heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love color and pattern—but in doses. More often, I’m drawn to a classic and clean aesthetic. But then: block print. The artistry behind this art form piqued my interest last year when I discovered that this style of pattern painting has been around for centuries, and has its own rich history of passed-down techniques. Because I love the cycle of old to new, forgotten to found again, I wanted to see if we could reimagine the block print style in a design that felt distinctly Magnolia. I loved what the team came up with so much that we replicated this floral motif within a few categories—from bedding to kitchen decor. I love the way it rounds out our spring collection, bringing in just the right amount of warmth and whimsy. — Joanna

Detailed designs, lovely colors, and plenty of charm—block printing is a timeless take on pattern. Designed by our in-house artists at Magnolia and applied by skilled artisans in India, the block prints seen throughout our spring collection bring the essence of the season to life, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this method of printing.

The Art of Block Print

The origin of block printing dates far back, seen in India as early as the 12th century. Magnolia’s block print pieces are crafted by talented artisans in India, who use traditional techniques to apply intricately beautiful designs. For the artisans we work with specifically, block printing involves the entire family in a process that has been passed down from parent to child for four generations.

Block printing requires skill, artistry, and precision. Here’s how our artisans do it:

An artisan carefully prints patterns on fabric using a block.
A skilled artisan block prints pattern on fabric.
Handmade block print patterns on fabric.

Step One

First, dyes are made using traditional methods and recipes. Because the dyes are often natural, slight variations may occur, further adding character to these designs.

Step Two

When ready to begin printing, fabric is tautly pinned to a table. The artisan then prepares the blocks they will use to print. Made from hand-carved teakwood, the process to chisel the designs into the blocks is an art form in itself, often taking several hours to carve a single block.

Multiple blocks are used throughout the printing process—including one that prints the outline of the design and one that fills it in. The outline block is traditionally called “Rekh” and the filling blocks are called “Datta” and “Gadh.”

Step Three

Precisely lining up the block, the artisan punches the design evenly throughout the fabric. The “Rekh” block is used first, printing the design outline. After, the “Datta” and “Gadh” blocks are used to fill in the design.

Step Four

After printing is finished, the fabric is washed and hung to dry in the sun.

A Note on Styling

Four block-printed napkins sit against a neutral backdrop.
A block-printed runner dresses a table.
The Flora Desert Clay Printed Tea Towel from Magnolia sits against a neutral backdrop.

There are multiple ways to incorporate the art of block print in your home. From hanging a block-printed tea towel on your oven door, dressing up bed layers with a block-printed quilt, or sprucing up your tablescape with a floral block-printed runner, these designs effortlessly add charm while embodying the liveliness of spring.

A bedroom scene features Magnolia's block-printed bedding.
Magnolia's Flora Block Print Quilt in Desert Clay sits folded on a neutral backdrop.
Magnolia's Flora Block Print Quilt and Sham in Silver Blue sit in a stack.
Magnolia's Flora Block Print Quilt in Natural lays flat with a corner folded down.

Rooted in history, the traditional beauty of block print makes it a classic choice for this season and each one to follow. Explore the art of block print in our spring collection, and find inspiration to weave its pattern into your home.