Published: April 17, 2017 Updated: June 26, 2022 2 min read
Resist printing is a popular printing technique. The process involves using a chemical paste to block out the color and keep fabric white during dying. After the dye process, the chemical paste is washed off, and the white pattern is revealed. The effects are kind of like tie dye, but much more intricate and detailed patterns can be achieved. In India, instead of using chemicals, we use 100% organic and natural, straight up, mud from the ground. So, forget everything you thought you knew about mud staining clothes, Dabu printing keeps those muddy spots white!
Dabu printing uses the same methods as block printing, check out our video to see block printing in action, but instead of ink or dye, a paste made of mud is used.
Block printing in India originated in Gujarat and dates back to the 12th century. From Gujarat, the technique spread to Rajasthan. Like accents within the same language, each geographical area has its own unique process and distinct aesthetic. Gujarat is known for bold geometric patterns, Sanganer for calicos, and Bagru, where our block prints come from for Dabu- mud resist printing and indigo.
The paste is made. It consists of black mud, usually from nearby ponds, bidhan aka wheat powder, arabic gum to improve adhesion, and lime water to prevent cracking.
The fabric is printed. Wooden blocks are dipped into the paste, and then pressed onto the fabric. To create geometric designs.
Sawdust is sprinkled on top of the paste. The sawdust sticks to the mud paste and ensures that dye will not be able to get through to the fabric.
Drying. The fabric is laid out in the sun to dry. The mud must be completely 100% dry in order for the dye not to penetrate through to the fabric.
Dying. The fabric is dyed in a large pot with vegetable dyes, or non-azo natural indigo.
Drying, again. The dyed fabric is laid back out in the sun to dry again.
Washing. The mud paste is washed off revealing the white fabric underneath.
Drying one last time. The washed fabric is set out in the sun one last time to dry.
The finished fabrics are inspected, sorted, and prepared to be shipped to customers.
Dabu printing is chemical free, and uses materials found in nature! Our dabu prints come from a family owned farm so we are supporting small local companies with each order. You can see from the photos we took that this is no typical factory operation, and is a small casual family business. While we were visiting one of their dogs that lives in the print house had just had puppies… they were only 5 days old! How cute are they?
I have spent over a decade living and working in fashion factories, seeing firsthand how clothing is made.
And now, I want to share with you everything I know. To help you navigate supply chains, and launch your own conscious clothing brand.
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