Mud resist or Dhabu, the traditional technique used in India was my experiment of the last few days. Since the last time I went to Sunbury Antiques Market I was thinking about doing this. I bought a lovely woodblock then, and lately I’ve been researching about gorgeous textiles made this way in Rajasthan, so I had to try out this technique for the first time.
Here is the dhabu, a mix of clay, lime, flour and gum arabica. Ready to have water added to it and a good pass through the sieve. My aim with this kind of resist dyeing was, to see the difference between the mud and the japanese rice paste and see how it behaves when applied in different ways and then dip dyed with indigo.
This is my only woodblock (I wish I’d bought more! ). I loved how, when I started using it, traces of red pigment that I didn’t notice before started coming through. Someone must have used this in the past, then I found it, a bit neglected in an old box, but now I was going to give it a new lease of life. By the way, does anyone know how to look after them properly? I’ve been using rapeseed oil but would love to know how people clean them after the mud…
Here I was trying one of my persimmon paper stencils – Katagami and I was lucky the dhabu didn’t damage it at all.
I also drew patterns straight onto the fabric with a brush and used random objects as stamps to see what happened. The results are below:
Applying mud with the woodblock was, in my opinion, the hardest. I struggled having consistency in the amount of dhabu in the block and found myself cleaning the block often, so the process wasn’t as quick as I’d imagine. But I Love how obvious it is that this is handmade, the is no machine that could make these details so alive.
My favorite, using a brush to paint on the resist. Not a quick job but was happy to see the strokes on the fabric as I intended them to look. The possibilities are endless!
These were happy and sunny days dyeing in the studio, having India on my mind, excitedly anticipating the Indian textiles exhibition at the V&A and looking for a way to squeeze a trip to Rajasthan in the future!