Made of locally grown Mango and Neem Margosa trees, the blocks used for Mern printing are crafted in Akola itself. The lone village blockmaker has his task cut out as the block is tricky to make requiring perfect balance between metal ends and wood, even distancing of the metal spokes to prevent smudging, a level finish for symmetry in printing and other considerations.
For each motif a set of two complementary filler Datta blocks are required. The block for the red napthol has an outline of wood which is filled with felt namda for even printing. The second part of the set is used for printing the Mern resist before dying in Indigo, and is made of a combination of metal spokes and wood. The motif is carved out of wood; while metal tips are form the dots around the motif. The blocks for mern printing have long handles of 2.5 to 3 inches, allowing for a firm grip. The design carved out is about 1.25 inches deep, much more so than other blocks.
The cleaning of a Mern Block is not easy. After use the printer leaves it to soak in the hot resist paste, this helps to remove the residual dried resist. The block is then scraped clean and stored till its next use.
The blockmaker has a complete understanding of the printers requirement, their relationship extending back generations. However with a single blockmaker now working the queue to get a new set of blocks is long.