Quality Improvement Workshop At Bagru

Venue: Bagru, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
(July 26, 2012)

SETU team visited block printing unit at Bagru to review the quality of material being produced. In addition, the motive was to educate artisans regarding international quality standards. We interacted with the grass root artisans at their workplace, tried to understand their problems, analyze their working procedures & tried to identify root cause(s) for various quality issues.

Few quality issues reviewed and analyzed are as follows:

•    Shade variation :
Pressing of block is one of the major issues. Uneven pressure during block placement results in non-uniform printing & color. This can be improved through skill enhancement & experience. The block condition also plays a major role in shade variation. Few blocks were found to be old & damaged.  With even slight manual variations, it may cause differential pressure & hence shades in the cloth. Artisans were asked to evaluate all their existing blocks & make new blocks where needed to avoid shade variation.

•    Size variation :
Block prints are usually made by the artisans on fabric by their expertise. They do not exactly measure the areas to be printed. The sizes were not being marked prior to printing. This does not create problems when the product is `running fabric’ but for specific products like pillow covers / bed sheets etc with borders, sometimes the printed area may exceed or fall short than the requirements. This can ultimately result in size variation of final products. Artisans were asked to mark the required size on cloth. Further the importance of equal size of borders was also explained. The different border widths result into quality defect after stitching.

•    Pattern cut at edges:
Double print at edges or at pattern cut is a very common problem. Artisans need to use paper to avoid it. It was observed that use of paper at edges were not being followed properly, resulting into double print at edges.

•    Color impact on various type of cloths:
In general, different types of fabric may give different color impact after printing with the same color. Hence it is very important to use same type of fabric for the whole lot. The washing of cloth prior to printing should also be uniform for whole lot.

•    Variation in color due to drying time :
It was also noticed that one of the major reason of shade variation was due to differential in exposure time of fabric in sunlight. To demonstrate the same, photos of same dyed fabric were taken after every 10 minutes. The differences in shades are quite visible. Hence artisans were asked to keep uniform drying time in sunlight. However, there are still chances of shade variations as the final shade greatly varies with weather. A clear & sunny weather would give different shade as compared to cloudy weather. Similarly, intensity of sun, time of day, weather etc. all effect the final shade of the print.

This is an intrinsic property of hand block printing and has to be accepted.

The interaction of SETU with artisans was very effective. Most of the problems were addressed at root level. The artisans were exposed towards international quality standard levels. This will improve their working style & result into quality improvement.