Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Natural dyes - Black beans

Round one of the black bean dye. I've been reading up and apparently the colour from these beans can be blue, green, purple or grey (but not black as the name would suggest.) The colour depends on the PH of the water. I fully expected to get brown but I didn't. So far I have only dyed some little silk swatches as I couldn't find any more silk in town and I haven't got any alum. I've got both on order but in the meantime...

I soaked the black beans in a bucket in water for two days, stirring now and then. Then I ladled some out into three jam jars. I mixed a little bicarbonate of soda in the first one to make it alkaline, left the second one neutral and added vinegar to the third. Then I put a small square of silk and a small square of muslin in each one. When I took them out, the bicarb and neutral jars were both the same colour so I rinsed the first one in a weak solution of bleach. Well, I thought it was weak - it washed the colour out of the muslin immediately!

Here are the results.

As you can see, the two on the right which got bleached have lost a lot of colour. The muslin (top) is pretty much white again and the silk is grey. The middle set were in the dye with nothing added. The muslin could be called blue but the silk is definitely purple. The vinegar set are a brighter purple. I'm really pleased with the purple but I do want to manage a blue. Maybe the alum will make a difference when it arrives. I'm hoping the dye will last a day or two if I put it in a sealed bottle. If not, it's not much effort to make another batch.

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