The studio I work with to create my handprinted materials is women owned and operated. Located in Bangalore, India this studio have been operating as a family run business since 1977, meaning some of the artisans have been printing for over 50 years. I have personally visited the studio and met the artisans in 2019 and first hand seen how they work towards ethically and responsibility creating and carrying on the beautiful craftsmanship of hand wood block printing. 


My first step is ordering the base fabrics to be dyed in the colours I want for my collection. The minimum order quantity is 100M per colour, to put this into perspective each dress takes about 1-3 metres. This amount can be quite daunting as a small business and putting so many metres into production is such a risk each time (financially and environmentally)  in hope you love what I'm creating. 
As these fabrics are being created brand new for me, I try use the most environmentally responsible practices by having all my fabrics Dyed with Gots Certified dyes and ensuring they are Organic Certified Cotton. The factory sends me a picture of a sample in each colour for me to approve before bulk fabric is dyed. From ordering the fabrics to them arriving at the studio ready to print takes around 2 months. 

I then have to plan the print layouts here in my studio in Melbourne- I am a very hands on creator so this has definitely been a huge learning curve for my creative process (I hope to return to the studio in Bangalore  to create soon!) I mostly design the prints by digitally drawing and pulling photo inspiration that I took of blocks I want to use from the Studio. 

They hand carve each block specifically to the design I send over- below are the first blocks I had created specifically for my collection.

As you can see each block is quite small (ranging 10-15cm wide) and each motif is applied to the fabric one by one, you can appreciate how much skill and precision it takes to do what these artisans do so effortlessly.
Here is an example of two block prints I had created for an original print and how it looks when I digitally design the layout VS when it is hand printed.


I pick the colours I want to be printed and let the studio know how much of each print/ what layout I want them to print them in. This document usually looks like this;

Katharina Lou block print layout document

In the meantime I get send process photos and videos and start designing the shapes I will turn these fabrics into! It takes around 2 months from this to when I receive them in my studio in Melbourne (slowwww fashion!).

Once the fabrics are complete at the studio they get packed up and shipped to my Studio In Brunswick, Melbourne. The fabrics arrive folded and I individually roll each print onto its own fabric roll so I can cut and sew order easily.
Katharina Lou printed fabrics

The next step is turning these prints into the shapes that you can see in my most recent collection here. 



Luv Katharina XX