Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist and designer. My currant emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with my wanderings on my Facebook page Drye Goods Studio.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Black Bean Dye

Since pictures of soaking horse chestnut hulls didn't sound too interesting I decided to post a do-over. People ask "What happens if they don't turn out right?" Well, then it is time for a do-over. I usually save these up in a pile and when I have that type of energy I get them out and ponder what to do with them. Some have tags that identify what I did to begin with, and this can be helpful when deciding what to do next. It is also good if I decide my do-over is something I would like to turn into an intentional process. (Now how did I screw that up to begin with???) One great solution is black bean dye. It is a cold water soaking dye, so no chance of losing what you already have to boiling in a new dye pot. Of course, depending how badly the item needs to be done over, you may want to lose the first effort! 


The first thing to do is determine if there is any alum in the scarf to begin with. If I did a pre-mordant with alum before eco printing I usually don't apply any more. In the case of the scarf in the big jar I used rusted nails as my mordant. It was a scarf I did while on the coast of Washington so I had used thimble berry and fern. This would be a great place to insert a picture of the original effort, if I had thought to take one-sorry! Anyway, while the thimbleberry was great, the fern, not so much. So as a scarf the design came out a bit too asymmetric, even by my standards. So I applied alum to the scarf, using the usual method for applying alum to silk. 

To make the dye I put a 1 pound bag of black beans to soak in about eight cups of cold water. As to the type, most black beans are packaged as a store brand and there is no way to know what the variety it is. Anyway, I have noticed some differences from store to store, but decided it wasn't worth stressing over. I let the beans soak for 24 hours. By that time the soaking water is murky and it is important not to let this set around any longer, it gets smelly fast. Using a strainer I pour the liquid into a larger vessel. It is important to not get too much of the sediment from the bottom in the soaking vat, it mucks up the dye vat and to my understanding can turn the color brown. I wet out the mordanted scarf and put it in the dye. I weight it down with a small plate, or you can do what I did in the second one and put it in a canning jar and just remember to flip it over periodically. Now it sets for 48 hours. Again, keep track of it, it smells bad enough after 48 hours, I can't imagine what would happen if it went longer than that. I remove the scarf from the vat, rinse it in clear water and hang it to dry. 

A note about that smell; remember that beans in general are notorious for growing botulism-that smell is a warning sign, so toss the beans, don't try to cook and eat them, wear gloves and keep your hands away from your face while doing this.

Eventually, it gets rinsed out with shampoo, hung to dry and ironed and it is ready to go. These are phone snaps and the color in real life is quite a bit darker than it seems here. I really like the way the original prints look like they are floating on water.




In the event you are wondering what was in the canning jar, it was a piece of silk crepe de chine I had done in Anacortes, but with alum as the mordant, so the prints came out a pale yellow, the operative word being pale. It is now a nice shade of blue and I will cut it up to make smaller scarves. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

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