Natural Dyeing: Black Beans, Part 3

IMG_5895_2

Six years ago I did two post on how to dye wool yarn with black beans. As I have moved into dyeing cotton fabric I thought I would write a little updated post. You can read here the part 1 and part 2. I basically I used exactly the same technique, the biggest difference was that because I was dyeing a cellulose fiber I mordanted with both tara powder and alum. There is a post I wrote about mordanting with tara powder here and with alum here.

IMG_5838_2

I soaked a 450g bag of black beans in a 2 litre bucket of water for 12 hours. Then I strained the dye into a glass jar (I don’t think the glass jar is important though). I soaked the same beans in a new water for another 12 hours and strained the dye again to the glass jar.

IMG_5806_2

THE FIRST DYE BATH

IMG_5804_2

I did a basic triangle shibori fold and let it soak in the jar for 24 hours. Its good to put a plate or something underneath the jar if is not air thigh and its really full, mine did spill liquid out during the process.

IMG_5825_2

The results do look darker here. After this I gave them a good rinse with water to get rid of all the excess dye.  And then I let them dry. It’s good to remember that natural dyes do tend to fade a bit in the sunlight, and in my experience black bean dye is one of those. I  always dry my materials inside to protected them from the sun.

IMG_5827_2

I think the shibori worked out quite nicely!

IMG_5846_2

IMG_5850_2

Same dye bath, second dye

IMG_5831_2

I’m sure this shibori has a name. Or maybe its tie dye? Leave a comment if you know. I did the same as last time. Let the bundle soak in the dye bath for 24 hours.

IMG_5890_2

All and all I did three dyes in the same dye bath. Each time the results got a bit lighter. I have some black bean dyes from six years ago and the years have faded the colours a bit. Some natural dyes are like that, in my experience mainly vegetable dyes . That’s why I prefer a darker colour, so that the results last longer. I also did a little test with unmordanted  fabric and it did work, not as well as mordanted fabric. My hypothesis is that the dye lasts time better when the fabric is  mordanted, but I don’t have the evidence to support that yet.

IMG_5899_2

There are many factors that play a role in what kind of colour you will get and I have not cracked all the secrets yet, but the main ones are:

BEANS: I have gotten very different results from different brands of beans grown in different parts of the world in different soils.

WATER: The pH-levels of your water  effect a lot your dye results. If you want you can measure it with pH-indicator strips. Number 7 is the neutral pH level, pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline. You can change the pH to more acidic with vinegar, I use alum as an mordant which I believe is acidic as well so it all ready effects my results. Or if you wanna go more alkaline you could try baking soda. Or try using rainwater or spring water to get different results. It really is about experimenting.

FABRIC: This is an obvious one. The base colour of you fabric or yarn means a lot as well. In the past I have gotten really lovely dark blues with a yarn that was grey to begin with. Also the quality of the material, thin or thick etc. effects.

And in the end with natural dyes you just never know what you get.

IMG_5895_2

Natural Dyeing: Black Beans (looking for the blues)

The name of my blog is called The Easy Blues. That’s because I was listening John Martyn two months ago when I started this blog. Ironically blue is definitely not the easiest colour to achieve when talking about natural dyes. Until recently I thought it would only be possible with indigo and perhaps some mushrooms. But then I found this blog post about dyeing with black beans. The blogger had achieved a beautiful sky blue colour. I pretty much followed the same recipe but my results were a bit different.

IMG_4078_2

I started out with 100 g of dried black beans. I laid them in the bottom of a small takeaway tub, I filled it with water and let the beans soak for 12 hours. Then I collected the dye and filled it with water again and let the beans soak for another 12 hours. By this time I figured I needed more dye than what I was getting from this little container, so I filled another one and did the same as above. In the end I ended up using 200 g of black beans and 1 litre of water. Next time I might use a bigger container and soak the beans together for the whole 24 hours. I’m not sure if there will be any difference in the colour.

IMG_4091_2

IMG_3997_2

I collected the dye to a glass jar and I put in 40 g skein of wool yarn that I had previously mordanted with alum (read about it here). I used both white and grey yarn to see the difference. I let the yarn stay in the dye for 24 hours, stirring the yarn every once in a while.

IMG_4023_2

IMG_4102_2

IMG_4107_2

IMG_4123_2

I didn’t get a sky blue or green (as some people have had) but a lavender colour.

IMG_4245_2

The grey yarn on the other hand did turn  out a beautiful navy blue.

IMG_4250_2

I used the dye for a second time and but in a tiny 10 g skein of wool yarn for 24 hours. It came out lavender as well, but a little lighter shade (on the left.)

IMG_4259_2

One thing I did notice while winding the yarn balls was that the colour gets off. I don’t know if this is something I did wrong, maybe I didn’t rinse the yarn enough. I did add a bit of vinegar to the last rinsing water so that the colour would stay. Maybe this is normal for black bean dye? This is the first time I have noticed this kind of behavior with natural dyes.

IMG_4265_2

I do like the colours but I’m curious why mine turned out violet and not sky blue.  As always with natural dyes, you can never know what’s going to happen. Is it the type of beans I used? Is there really a difference between black beans and back turtle beans? What about the tap water that I used? Does the PH matter? I’m going to find out what is our tap waters PH and I’m also going to have another try with black beans. I will find that sky blue. Do you have any experiences with black beans? I did dye a little bit more of the navy blue yarn (below) but unfortunately my photo does not repeat that colour exactly as it is. The real colour is bit more grey. It’s quite difficult to photograph naturally dyed yarns because they change so much depending on the light.

IMG_4274_3