Art Classes: Level I

LEVEL I-ART LESSON 13: The Wooden Block Print From India

This lesson is suitable for students in grades 2 through adult


Art Lesson Description:

If you’ve ever looked at fine fabrics from India (you can find pictures of Indian fabrics here), you’ve probably wondered, as we have, “How do they make these gorgeous patterns?”

The key to the gorgeous patterns on Indian fabrics can be found in small carved wooden blocks that are used to hand-print the fabrics. You can find a video showing Indian craftsmen printing one of these patterns here.

After showing students how the fabric is printed in India, the lesson introduces students to printmaking in a two-step process. First students create a background for the print with crayon rubbings and watercolor. Then they carve potato slices to make their own printing blocks. Along the way they learn about value, random and regular patterns, and analogous and complementary colors.

This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson.

Watch a preview of the lesson here

List of Supplies for Each Student:

  • A sheet of ordinary printer paper
  • A collection of leaves
  • A sheet of 11” x 14” drawing paper (#ad)
  • A drawing board (#ad)  (12” x 16” masonite works well)
  • A roll of masking tape (#ad)
  • A box of crayons (#ad)
  • A set of watercolor paints (#ad)
  • A flat surface to spread paint on (a plate, a sheet of waxed paper, or a flat lid)
  • A paint brush (#ad)
  • A potato
  • A dull tool to carve the potato (a dull knife, the handle of a spoon, or a small wooden stick, for example)
  • A sharp pencil
  • A paper towel or kleenex


Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:

Identifying common trees

The geography of India

More about Indian block printing

  • PRINTING VIDEO Watch Indian craftsmen 1) prepare a random striped background on fabric and 2) print a regular pattern on top of the background.
  • How to print on fabric: Learn how you can print your potato block on fabric.
  • Video with pictures of wooden block designs, people printing with the blocks, and shots of patterns on Indian buildings. .
  • Block printing on fabric in India.

Indian cooking

Literature: Read Indian folk stories from the Panchatantra tales.

Learn about the religions of India

Approximate Time Needed to Complete the Art Class:

  • Creating the background: 20 minutes
  • Carving the potato block: 20 minutes
  • Printing the block print: 10 minutes
  • Total time: about 1 hour

Original wooden block
Original wooden block
Carving with dull tools
Carving with dull tools
A finished print
A finished print

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