Indian mud resist + Indigo

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!


22 responses to “Indian mud resist + Indigo

  1. So pretty! You should totally visit Rajasthan. Though most cities are now very commercial, I have to say that Rajasthan is by far the best place I’ve visited in India!! Don’t miss Jodhpur + Udaipur + a night desert stay in Sum! Memories to last a lifetime 🙂

  2. Hi Luisa,

    It’s tricky to tell from the photo of your block, but judging from the complexity of the pattern and what you say about having to keep cleaning it, it looks as if it’s a block for printing pigment rather than mud.

    When I did a workshop in Jaipur on mud resist printing with indigo earlier this year the blocks we used were cut much deeper and had simpler designs than those for printing with pigment, so they don’t get clogged up, When we finished printing we just gently scrubbed it with water and a brush (best to do this straight away, otherwise the mud is difficult to remove once it dries).


  3. I love the printing so much. I also tried this once and now i understand why my blocks were not good for this kind of printing. But where o where could i buy the mudprinting blocks?
    And how much of clay and gum did you use and thelime was from the fruit?
    Greetings from France

    • Hi Baukje! If you can’t find the blocks you’re after, maybe you could make your own? Simple materials and shapes could make good ones, I think I might do that too!
      I used 125g of clay, 75g of flour, 25g of gum arabic and 125g of lime – that is slaked lime, not from the fruit 🙂 I’m sure you can find a ready made mix of all this online.

  4. Yes, it was very interesting, and Di and Natalie are great. You also get the chance to work with other dyes such as myrolaban, pomegranate and kassis (iron).

  5. Hi I love your mud prints. Can you please tell me what clay you used and did you use plain white flour? I would like to try it myself. Thanks for sharing. Di from Australia.

  6. Pingback: Mud resist dyeing in India | T E Z U K U R I·

  7. Hi Luisa , amazing info on mud dying and wonderful results. I am off to the London , UK in January , are you teaching any winter courses ? Annette, Jerusalem

Leave a comment, I'd love to read it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s