Join us for a trip down memory lane to Bangkok, Thailand as we give you a sneak peak behind-the-scenes look at the secretive Mudmee process!
Mudmee is a specific variation of tie dye that is native to Thailand and Laos. It is a highly coveted process and details of the technique are kept super secret to preserve the culture and practice within the community. We definitely don't know everything, but we can let you in on a few of the basics...
Mudmee patterns are known for gorgeous starbursts and rich, vibrant colors. These colors are achieved because the dyeing process is always done on black or pigmented fabric, which is much unlike the modern tie dye of the beloved hippie era where dyes are created on white fabric. Notice that the base textile for our Mudmee products are either black, grey, cobalt, violet, or turquoise. Rich base colors like these make for dramatic color changes in each unique product. Since each item is made by hand, every single garment we carry is different! You can bring home one of our mudmee Althea dresses knowing it's the only one like it in the world!
Let us introduce you to our friends!
This is Pae, his lovely family, and ours! We haven’t been working together for long, but like most of our partners, it feels like we’ve known them much longer. Like Mexicali Blues, Pae’s mudmee operation is family-run, and everything is done with a fun and kind attitude that we love! Pae oversees everything that his team creates but that doesn’t stop him from getting his hands dirty (or dyed) and getting down to business.
Meet Juan. He’s the person in charge of patterns, which is the most important aspect of the detailed process. He ensures the garment templates are arranged properly, in order to not waste a single inch of fabric.
Juan’s process begins with each pattern being cut for the garment, but did you know that the fabric is layered to cut dozens of the same product at once? That’s why measuring and arranging the templates are so important! If the placement of the template is wrong on one, then all the garments will be off. It’s a good thing Juan is an expert, and he has a whole team to help him out too!
Once the garment is sewn, then it's time to dye it! If you ever go to Bangkok, you’ll see many different kinds of tie dye being sold. These designers take pride in their practice and it’s shown in the vibrancy of the colors they use. Naturally their dying practices are highly coveted, so while we don’t know too much about the pigments, we did learn a thing or two about what makes our Mexicali Mudmee so special...
...It’s thanks to Mr. Boom! He’s the Spiral Master of Mudmee. Would you just look at that sun burst?! To create our designs, each item is individually bunched, set in place by rubber bands and then dyed by hand. The center photo above shows how a sunburst pattern is made. The details of the folding patterns are pretty complicated in order to create these wild designs but Mr. Boom keeps it all in check. He goes over the quality control to ensure each product will turn out with a dazzling design.
While we don’t know all the secrets, we do know there's a lot of happiness involved in this work! This attitude is just one aspect of why we love working with our vendors. We have a tried and true approach for deciding who we support and that's our "working with people who smile" philosophy! Below are just a few members of Mr. Boom’s team of skilled Mudmee Masters. Nothing beats Aek's smile!
The next step is the most photogenic out of the whole process. The dye has to be allowed to set and soak into the fibers. Once the fibers are thoroughly pigmented, each design is unbound and hung to dry. This is our favorite time because the pigments are at their most saturated and we get to soak in the rows of pretty colors!
Next up, each item is inspected for quality control. The team works together looking for any imperfections on each garment just to make sure they are of the best quality. All those bags that are piled up in the background are the completed orders waiting to be sent to Mexicali Blues!