The Fading Art of Blueprint

Inside Moravia’s iconic cloth printing technique and the two Czech Republic patriarchs devoted to preserving it.

Nestled among the rolling hills of Moravia in the eastern Czech Republic the ancient art of blueprint is being kept alive by two families committed to ensuring the future of this16th century cloth printing process that’s been passed from father to son for generations.

Blueprint was widespread in Central Europe throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In some regions of Moravia, it became an integral part of the local folk costumes. Today the Strážnice and Danzinger families are the lone keepers of this prized technique with its range of iconic blue hues that marries precise family recipes and secret methods with a tradition celebrated passionately across the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and Germany. 

So much so that UNESCO has officially recognized its importance to local culture and the dangers of extinction of this labor-intensive, historically accurate technique passed down through generations.

Located in in the southern Moravian town of Olešnice, that dates back to the 11th century, the Blueprint work-room of the Danzingers family employs the original method of manual printing by means of wooden forms and linen colored with natural indigo dye.

The modrotisk technique (meaning blueprint or blue-dying) involves a secret recipe of special paste, which is applied to cloth using hand-carved (some, 300-year-old) wooden blocks. These blocks contain patterns of flowers and plants emblematic of the surrounding regions, making the fabric a popular element of regional folk costumes. The cloth is then dipped in deep indigo-blue dye while the paste keeps the patterned areas in crisp, bright white contrast. 

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