The Dabu process

- First of all Fabric is received from the mills. Based on the order, different sizes are measured and cut based on the fabric. Sarees would have 7 metres, dupattas 2.5 metres 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 frequently 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 continues for three days.

- The fabric is then pre-washed and soaked for 24 hours to remove all starch, oil, dust, or any other contaminants.

- After that the fabric is dipped in Myrobalan (Tanning) agent. The myrobalan paste is prepared about three hours in advance by mixing about 2kg paste for 100 m of fabric. After that the fabric is dried in the sunlight. (Red Process - No Dabu)

- After it is dried, then the next process of Dabu is done. Printing paste is made using (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 blocks.

- After that fabric is printed once with a paste of Alum+ Tamarind Seed + Direct dye to distinguish. (White Process - Dabu). After that fabric is washed once, then it is dried and then goes for boiling.

- In boiling, the fabric is put in the vat containing boiling water mixed with 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. If the color required is dark then some iron water needs to be added.

- Then the Dabu paste is prepared based on the number of fabrics involved at a time for undergoing the batch process.

- The fabric is block printed with dabu, which is a mud resist paste made from clay and gavar gum, and sprinkled with saw dust (so the fabric will not stick to itself), and laid to dry in the sun. The dabu mud makes the printed area resistant to dyes, and therefore will remain unaffected when it is later dyed.

- Once the mud is dry, the fabric is immersed in a dye, usually indigo, and again laid to dry in the sun. The printers may repeat the dabu printing on top of the dyed fabric to create further layers of resist and again dye it in darker shades of the dye.

- 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.

Note : The Dabu paste is printed on fabric with the help of wooden block. A skilled printer is essential to get satisfactory prints.