Reviving Blaudruck

Saving Central Europe’s resist print process

In our global world, there are very, very many unique fabric patterns from every corner of the world. We are all familiar, for example, with various patterns from Mexico and India, paisley from Scotland, Chinese and Arabic patterns and so on. The traditional central European patterns have, since the fall of the communist states, been completely ignored. The hand-printed patterns have fallen by the way side and are rarely found in the major sites visited by the tourists.

The classic Central European textile tradition is Blaudruck, a resist print process, where a pap is pressed with handmade carved blocks onto the fabric. When the fabric is dipped into an indigo blue bath, and then dried, the patterns appear in the original color of the cloth. There are now only a few art workshops that continue to do this that keep alive this almost forgotten textile art - Germany has about 20 of these workshops, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, respectively, have two and in Hungary you can now find four blue print workshops. There is also one in Russia.

Each workshop has its own unique fabric patterns and motifs that are found nowhere else in the world. This craft was more widespread before the Second World War in Central and Eastern Europe, but now it is under threat of extinction. Hopefully an entry on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage next year will prevent this.

My business idea is to support these remaining art workshops with my design work. One day I visited one of the workshops in the Bavarian Forest. In Mr. Fromholzer's shop I was enchanted when I saw his hand printed fabrics: I thought 'what kind of product could you use to fit it into today's modern time that the potential customer would like? One could try to combine it with leather! '

With this idea, I then searched via the internet for a leather bags producer. While I can sew and design all my products, I do not have the necessary machine equipment and sewing skills for leather handbags.

A Czech handbag company was willing to try out this combination of leather and fabric for me. It was a complete success! The beautiful old patterns are now set off by the leather and it underlines their timeless beauty perfectly. Dilians handbags help support the textile heritage of Central Europe—a goal that was important to me right from the start.

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