Video by Rachel Schwarz
I've always loved the depths of indigo vats in India, with their metallic glimmer. On one excursion, I learned about Dabu rug printing, a hand block printing process that uses a clay resist, which dries on the rugs in the sun. Once the clay is dry, the rugs are dipped into the natural indigo vat. I met a jolly indigo vat wallah outside of Jaipur, named Ram, and his sister Gyarsi, who prints the rugs.
I saw Gyarsi gently print the rugs with the thick clay. The next day, I went to the vats, and her brother Ram carefully pressed the large rugs down into the depths of the vats with a cane stick. He left them in the vats a few minutes to absorb. He then pulled out the rugs and laid them to dry in the sun, before they were stone washed to remove the clay and excess indigo.
The prints are distressed - the uneven absorption of the indigo and the clay create an unruly pattern that I love. I only made a few of these rugs, so grab one while you can. Please note that the indigo is natural, and might rub off a bit on your tennis whites.