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It’s hard to believe it today with all the rain being dumped from the sky but we have enjoyed some lovely sunny weather lately here in the UK and I have made the most of it with a spot of mud printing in our back garden.

Printing with a mud paste can get a little messy so it’s great to be able to do it outdoors. In addition it’s very helpful when it then rains and washes all that mess away – easy clean-up 🙂

However the sunshine means that the paste can get dried out fairly quickly so you can go on with the next step in the process.

You may have seen block printing done with mud (Dabu) in India and of course not only do they have the heritage and skills but also the climate. Dabu printing is a traditional mud-resist hand-block printing art usually done with a wooden block (the metal blocks are more often used for batik printing as the wax can be melted off)

My receipe for the mud paste was little hit and miss – water, clay and lime powder which I tried to avoid using because it can burn your skin badly, but hb helped me out and we mixed it carefully with masks on – another good reason to be outside if you try this.

Make Mud Prints while the sun shines is my new saying!

It’s possible to print with anything pretty much. I own quite a few wooden blocks some of which were excellent and some too fine to cope with the build up of mud after multiple layers had been applied. I also used foam shapes and cardboard rolls with good effect. And one of my favourites was simply a big brush applied in broad strokes.

The mud acts as a resist to the dye and sometimes cracks during the drying process which can cause veining, which in my opinion adds to the final effect.

Once the paste has dried, you can apply colour.

I used a Dylon hand dye so that it would be fixable and washable but I didn’t chance the dip-dye technique preferring to apply the dye with a brush and layer up the colour to make a good dark ‘indigo’ blue. It’s worth mentioning that a pre-wash really helps prime the fabric to receiving the dye.

Finally it’s dried again and then you can hand wash out the mud and admire the beautiful fabric. Where the mud was will have repelled the dye leaving a white (or in some of my cases a much paler blue) print. It will probably be years before I dare to cut into these 😉High on my wish list is a holiday in India with some authentic Dabu printing but until then the back yard will have to do.

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