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ECOLOGY, NATURAL DYES

Natural dye from black beans

Here we are again! I’m back to the pots that produce the most magnificent colors of nature and this timeI’m exploring the natural dye of black beans.

The backstory :

Some time ago, I paid a visit to the store where I buy legumes and cereals in bulk. There, Mr. Panagiotis showed me his new arrival : black beans, rich in iron, he said. Of course, I bought them to try at home, and put them in water to soak overnight. The next morning, I woke up and saw that the beans have given off a wonderful violet color in water. I drained the beans, kept the violet water, put the beans to boil and added a piece of cotton fabric in the colored water to see what would happen. I left it there for 24 hours and the result was a wonderful blue-gray color.

Since then, I have run several tests on different types of fabric and materials to be able to share my excitement with you. Maybe this is a good point to tell you that before I write an article, before I share an idea and give instructions, I always do a lot of testing to be sure of what I suggest.

Back to the black beans now! Black beans can give off wonderful colors to fabrics and wooden objects. Depending on the type of fabric, and the time we leave it in the dye, we will have different shades: purple, purple-blue, gray-blue-, gray, etc.

With the color from the black beans, we can dyelinen and cotton fabrics such as kitchen towels, clothes or bags. We can also dye wood and any natural and absorbent material, in general. So far, I have dyed a net bag, some pieces of fabric, cotton ropes and wooden beads with the black beans.

Black beans : 50 shades of blue and violet.

You will need :
  • 1 cup of black beans
  • 4 cups of water (I recommend filtered)
  • 1 wooden spoon that you will use only for painting with plants, and not for food
  • 2 glass or metal bowls
  • A piece of cotton / linen cloth, a cotton blouse or any of the materials I mentioned above. (Hereinafter referred to as “fabric”)
  • A shady spot outside
  • Optional: Gloves (I don’t use gloves because they are plastic and limited-use only. I’d rather have blue nails, it doesn’t matter!)
Instructions :
  1. In the bowl, add the beans and water and let them soak for 12 hours. It is important to put enough water as the beans will absurb some of it. Check regularly to see if the water is running low and add a little more, so that the beans are covered to the top.
  2. After 12 hours, drain the beans and keeping the colored water.
  3. Transfer the beans into a saucepan to boil (in fresh water, of course) and make a delicious salad.
  4. With the water you saved from soaking for 12 hours, you will now paint the fabric and whatever else you want. Caution! Use the cold water from the soakingof the beans and not the water from boiling them!

So you have a crystal purple-blue liquid in your bowl.

How to prepare the fabric :
  1. Wash the fabric with green soap and rinse well with lukewarm water. Drain well and while it’s still wet, dip it into the colored water.
  2. Make sure that the fabric is completely covered by the colored waterand in case it’s floating, add weights. I added some glass wine bottles to hold the cloth to the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Every 2-3 hours, stir the cloth, changing its position in the bowl, using a wooden spoon. This way, you will achieve an even color.

Caution! The entire fabric must be covered with water and no protrusion must appear on the surface of the liquid.

Suggested painting hours :

After following the instructions above, you are now free to experiment with the hours! Try what will happen if you leave your cloth for 10 or 24 hours. How much will the color change?

In any case, I suggest 6 hours as the minimumand 30 hours as the maximum time you can leave the fabric in the dye. After 30 hours, the colored water will start to smell, especially in the summer months. Of course, you can always try the fridge.

How to remove the cloth from the dye :

Drain the cloth well in the bowl and you are ready to hang to dry. Depending on the season, a fabric needs 1-5 hours to dry.

It is important that the fabric dries in a place where it doesn’t come in contact with the sun at all during drying. For example, if it is the afternoon, hang the fabric on the north balcony as the sun will take several hours to be there again.

It’s equally important to hang the fabric in such a way thatit doesn’t crease.. Creases will create water in the end result, which of course may be desired by some. A good solution is for the fabric to dry flat with either pegs or small nails on the wall of a balcony. When I paint a piece of fabric, I hang it from the clothesline with a very gentle grip on the edges of the fabric, so that the peg doesn’t leave a mark.

What do we do after the fabric dries?

Let it rest for 72 hours in a shady, well ventilated place. This way, the dye penetrates even better into the fibers of the fabric.

How to wash the fabric :

Yes, you can wash a fabric has been dyed with vegetable dye and it won’t fade, as long as you treat it with respect and love. Always wash by hand with cold water, using a mild green soap.

What to do with the color of the fabric you painted :

You can store it in a glass bottle in the fridge and repaint something when you have the time and inspiration.

The color that black beans give off has fascinated me and I look forward to experimenting more, by adding a little vinegar to test if the shade will change due to the change in acidity of the liquid.

For any question regarding the above, you already know that I am here for you!
I look forward to seeing your own experiments with this holy bean water.

Grab everything white cotton in the house and start dyeing!

See you soon,

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