Dabu printing is a traditional art and an elaborate process in a unique way of dyeing and printing by which exceptional print fabrics of unique appeal result. It has a special feature that it is a mud-resist hand-block printing. It is practiced in certain pockets in the state of Rajasthan, India. The Dabu print fabric appears very elegant and unique with its brilliant floral and thematic patterns in sharp and detailed prints of bright and well-chosen designs. The highlight of Dabu printed fabrics is the use of organic colors and vegetable pastes which are eco-friendly, skin-friendly, fast and retain their brilliance for most of the lifetime of the fabric.
- Materials: Black clay from pond, Bidhan or Wheat powder obtained by the wheat eaten by wheat insects; Arabic gum; Lime water; Fabric. (Cotton, pure silk, crepe, georgette, chiffons); Natural and chemical dyes.
- Firstly, fabrics are brought from mills, some fabrics are of 7 metre and some are of 2.5 metre and so on. Traditionally mill made cloth of 30s, 60s and mull is used. It is heavily sized. For that it needs to be desized. Desizing is done by repeatedly beating the wet fabric against a hard surface (stone).
- It is kept for a day after such beating so that enzymatic reaction can loosen the size. Next day it is again beaten and so on. This process takes three days.
- Then to remove dust, oil and starch the fabric is pre-washed and soaked for 24 hours. After that the fabric is dipped in Myrobalan (Tanning) agent. The myrobalan paste is prepared about three hours in advance. After that the fabric is dried in the sunlight. This step is called Red Process.
- Then the next process of Dabu is done. Printing paste is made with (Jaggery, Hydrate of Lime, Kali Mitti and Gum (Nigeria). The paste is then spread over coir to give it a base. The printing is done using beautiful wooden blocks.
- After that fabric is printed once with a paste of Alum+ Tamarind Seed + Direct dye to distinguish. This step is called White Process - Dabu. After that fabric is washed once, then it is dried and then boiled.
- The fabric is put in the vat containing boiling water mixed with Dhauri Ke Phool ( Jaloor)+ Alizarin ( Madder)+ Mahi for 1 hour at 100 degrees Celcius. The fabric is circulated about 5 times using Bamboo Poles.
- Then the Dabu paste is prepared with clay and gavar gum. Then the fabric is block printed with dabu (the paste prepared), which is a mud resist paste.
- Once the mud is dry, the fabric is immersed in a dye, and again laid to dry in the sun. The printers may repeat the printing on top of the dyed fabric to create further layers of resist and again dye it in darker shades.
- Finally the fabric is washed to remove all traces of the Dabu mud, and revealing the resist area to be the original white (or other colors depending on how many times the fabric was Dabu printed). The fabric is again dried in the sun. It is then ready to be packaged and sold.
- Products: Traditional Dabu products includes lehenga (long skirt) and Dupattas. Today a variety of home furnishings, garments, yardage, and accessories are made using this technique.