Yesterday’s post about getting out of a creative rut has inspired me to step out of my comfort zone a little – and mix things up a bit. A change is as good as a holiday right? And so I thought that instead of simply sharing a completed project with you, I’d bring you along on the journey – from first spark of idea to (eventual) execution of something amazing – if I’m lucky. Right now, I’ve got a wee obsession with mud cloth – black and white textiles with eye catching designs made up of triangles and lines. Where did it all begin you ask? Interestingly I saw a lot of it in the markets in Bangkok, which is quite bazaar because it’s actually a centuries old African technique, originating in Mali. (My friend bought this incredible vintage backless maxi dress in the markets made from mud print fabric – one of those situations where you wished you’d got your hands on it first – ‘no babe you buy it’ ‘no you’ ‘no youuuuu’). But, back to the point, mud cloth is the colloquial name for Bogolanfini – a handmade Malian cotton fabric dyed using a process of fermented mud that dates back to 12th century. It’s still produced in Mali using the traditional technique (so yah, not sure how it got to Bangkok but there you go), but the recognisable print has also made it’s way into fashion and modern interiors. And whilst I would love to travel to Mali to learn how it’s made in person, I’ll have to satisfy myself with a journey through a thousand pinterest boards. Ha.
Gorgeous cushions – can I have 9784209348q of these? (via Loom Goods)
HOW MUD CLOTH IS MADE
I wanted to share with you the process for how mud cloth is made – I find all these traditional processes so interesting and can’t wait to one day see for myself. Read on to see how it’s done.
1. The men start the process by weaving cotton thread on a loom. The loom is normally hand-held and makes a strip of cloth around 12 cm wide (around 5 inches). The men will weave around 9 panels this size and then sew them together to create a big piece of fabric.
2. The cloth is then soaked in a tea solution made out of cengura leaves – this will enable to cloth to soak up the mud later.
3. The traditional designs are then painted onto the cloth using fermented mud from the river. This mud is usually mixed with water and set aside for about a year to ferment. For the black fabric, the designs are actually painted on in their negative space, leaving the unpainted cloth which shows the patterns.
4.The mud will be applied and washed out a few times for it to darken.
5. Once the designs are finished, any white spaces (like designs on a black mud cloth and the background on the white versions) a soda or bleach style substance is applied to make the white brighter and then washed and dried.
Read more about the process, and design your own mud cloth here.
You’ll know how obsessed I am with process photos – these ones from WGSN make me want to go to Mali to learn more in person. Get me on that plane now.
These are a bit different because they’re being done in squares not strips, but the process is the same.
This is the bleach being added to the designs to brighten them up and create more contrast.
The best thing about mud cloth is that it can be added to a room without it being too in your face. This tapestry from Urban Outfitters caught my eye recently. I bought one to create a dress DIY with. Stay tuned.
I think I love these prints so much because they have a touch of personality whilst also being very minimalist. Ya Know? This above cushion pic I found here.
This chair this chair! A piece from the now pretty much defunct Urban Renewal UO collection, I’m feeling pretty, prettttttyyyy, pretty inspired right now – when will my new mud cloth arrive? Image from Ariele Alasko’s Studio on Design Sponge.
I love the mix of worn in brown leather and the mud cloth pillow – a gorgeous house from My Domaine.
Another nifty piece of mud cloth as a bedhead. Ca-uttttteeee. This one from Amber Interiors.
In conclusion, I’ve gone on a bit of a mud cloth spree recently and can’t wait for it to arrive so I can make some things out of it – both of the fashion and the home variety. Clearly I’m going to have to create a few cushions what with them being just about everywhere. The above are a few textiles I bought – they’re one of a kind on Etsy so sold now but you can find more here! You can also make your own mud cloth using a bleach pen – you’re going to need a steady hand for that one – perhaps I need to give it a go?