Explore the story behind Lee Jofa’s legendary handblock prints
A rare treasure in the design world, Lee Jofa’s handblock prints take center stage as an integral part of the brand’s legacy. At a time when automation and digital production are at the forefront of today’s textiles, the traditional art of handblock prints provide a unique and artisanal design. These special prints are works of art in their own right and date back centuries as one of the original textiles in civilization.
By definition, a handblock is made by applying inked blocks of carved wood on a ground cloth by hand. The blocks, some as old as 100 years, are crafted from various woods and applied with absorbent felt. Fine linear copper is also added to achieve the fine detailing for which handblock prints are so well known.
A true handblock print will make its mark not only on the front of the cloth, but the back as well. The dye is hammered into the ground cloth, bleeding through the back of the cloth, producing its own beautiful print mark. It’s not unusual for designers choose to use the fabric on the reverse side for this very reason.
Because of the unique wet-on-dry printing method, handblock prints produce layered coloring, which are commonly known as fall-ons, and a painterly effect that can’t be found on other kinds of printing. There are also no limitations to the size of the vertical repeat or the number of colors in a pattern, unlike mechanical printing, which is limited to the size of the machinery.
Today, Lee Jofa’s collection of handblock prints is one of the largest in the trade with 18 designs and over 75 colorways. Lee Jofa’s signature handblock design, Hollyhock Print, has been in continuous production since the early 1920s.
Browse some beloved handblock prints here.