December 1, 2022

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Moravian family workshop keeping blueprint tradition alive for future generations

Blueprint or indigo dying is an historical printing strategy utilised for decorating cloth. It originated in Asia in the 17th century and, via the Silk Road, it slowly unfold initially to Egypt and then to Europe.

The Czech tradition of indigo dyeing with block printing, called modrotisk in Czech, dates back again to the 18th century. It appreciated its heyday throughout the 19th century, when almost every small city would have a blueprint workshop of its very own. But by the 20th century, their numbers begun to dwindle due to the introduction of printing equipment in factories.

Historical past of blueprint workshop in Strážnice

These days there are only two relatives-operate workshops in the Czech Republic that nonetheless apply the UNESCO-detailed technique, equally of them in South Moravia. 1 of them is in Strážnice, a smaller village close to the town of Hodonín. It belongs to the Joch family, who have been keeping the engineering used by their ancestors because 1906.

František Joch has realized the craft from his father and passed it on to youthful customers of the family members, generating certain they will maintain the custom alive:

“It started off with my grandfather, Cyril Joch, who came from a different village. At that time, blueprints in Strážnice were produced by Mr Rybář and my grandfather became his apprentice.

“That’s how he satisfied my grandmother. They fell in enjoy and got married and began a blueprint store in the residence wherever our grandmother lived. That was in 1906.

“My grandfather died quite early, I failed to get to know him, but he taught my father the craft. It was soon after the Initial Globe War and the fabrics were being marketed all about the place, as considerably absent as Slovakia.

“They would get a coachman with horses, load up the items and go all the way to Malacky to sell them at the good. It was considerably additional hard than now.”

In 1953 the Czechoslovak communist government nationalized all non-public-owned organizations, like the workshop of František Joch’s father, forcing him to uncover a position.

“My father uncovered a job in a laundry in the nearby city of Hodonín. At that time, the Nationwide Centre of Folks Art Output was established, which united tiny folks artwork producers.

“One of the folks behind the venture approached my father and questioned him to come again to Strážnice. So the blueprint technologies has been taken care of beneath the umbrella of that organization.”

Science behind blueprint production




Gabriela Bartošková | Photo: Markéta Ševčíková,  Czech Radio

Modrotisk refers both to the material printing procedure as well as the title of the dark blue cloth with white styles produced by this approach.

All through the manufacturing, a dye-resistant paste is applied on the cloth the place it is not meant to be dyed, making use of wooden or metallic varieties. The printed fabric is then submerged in a cold indigo bath.

This procedure is utilized across the whole of Central Europe but the styles vary in particular person locations or even workshops.

František Joch, who was awarded the title Bearer of the Custom of Folks Crafts, nonetheless works by using numerous of the hand-crafted blocks still left by his grandfather, some of which are more than a hundred several years previous.

“We have about ten blocks left from my grandfather. Some of them are wood, with the structure carved into the wood. The more delicate designs had been made using brass nails, which have corroded more than time and fell out, so they had to be repaired.”

Nowadays, the blueprinting tradition in Strážnice has been taken in excess of by the fifth technology of the Joch family. František Joch’s great-niece, Gabriela Bartošková, is now in charge of the printing process.  Although she resisted at initially, she says she ultimately fell in appreciate with the craft:

“I explained to my mom I would under no circumstances do this outdated matter and she explained: what ever you want, but to start with print a meter or two of fabric, so you know what you are missing.

“So I did, and it was really like at very first print. I immediately understood this was a thing I preferred to do for the relaxation of my daily life.

“I assume it wasn’t the pattern that obtained me, it was the ritual procedure of printing, which is sort of like meditation and it calms you down. That seriously struck me. Due to the fact then, I have been fascinated by blueprint and I even now carry on to learn its secrets.”

The Joch studio in Strážnice is stuffed with dim blue materials, which have been hand-printed with fragile styles and are now waiting to dry out. When the prints are absolutely dry, the materials can be submerged into the indigo bath, describes Ms Bartošková:

“We have a two-metre-deep tub, which is stuffed with the dye. In addition to the indigo, there are other chemical substances that build a chemical oxidation method which colours the compound. The specific composition of the ingredients utilised in the system is a solution of every workshop.

“Our composition lets us to submerge the dye for 5 minutes, but the approach has to be recurring 5 to six moments. At the instant we are printing 13 metres of fabric and following we implement the coating it has to dry for five to 10 days before it can be dipped in the indigo tub.”

Whilst the classic designs made in the Moravian area have been white and blue, these days the Joch workshop also makes other color combos:

“A common blue and white blueprint was printed on white linen, while in Slovakia, it was typically accomplished on yellow linen. If we print on red linen, there will be a pink pattern.”

Revival of blueprint approach

With the increase of the rapid trend industry, the historic blueprint technological innovation has virtually disappeared. In recent yrs, however, it has seen something of a revival, with a lot of manner designers re-getting the age-aged technique, claims Ms Bartošková:




Photo: Jitka Mládková,  Radio Prague International

“I would say that our culture has develop into a lot more intrigued in traditions, crafts, but also in ecological production. The blueprint is supported by the curiosity in slow vogue and the fascination in community products and solutions. The collaboration with designers formulated so by natural means.

“I feel it is thanks to the range of the technique. It can be restricted to some extent by designs, but you can generate your individual styles and you can also have backgrounds of diverse colors. What’s more, blueprints are acceptable for all natural components, together with cotton, linen silk and hemp.”

In addition to developing a broad array of common blue-dyeing products these as fabrics, tablecloths, potholders, aprons or pillows, the Joch workshop also generates less standard accessories:

“We have made fabrics for car seats, lampshades and sneakers and we have also delivered content for a number of weddings. Blueprint is a definitely contemporary fabric that can be made use of in unlimited means.”

In modern decades, the Joch workshop in Strážnice has engaged quite a few modern style designers in the art of the blue-dyeing system, which include the renowned Czech designer Klára Nademlýnská. The legendary materials from Strážnice have been also made use of by Zuzana Osaka for the outfits of the Czech nationwide group at the Tokyo Olympics.