Tuesday, 23 April 2013

How to Make Blue Using Black Turtle Beans

When I first started dyeing wool, I thought that blue could only be obtained from indigo and woad, both of which I would have to buy on the internet. However, when I was trying to find a good way of making green, I stumbled across this blog, where a nice lady called Cynthia somehow makes a beautiful green dye using dried black beans. I used almost the exact recipe (apart from the amount of beans, which I just guessed), and discovered my first blue.


I can't be exact while describing how I made this colour, because I never weighed the beans or measured the amount of water I used. Silly me. However, after creating the second, darker type of blue (below), I realised that the concentration of the dye was more important than the weight of beans that I used. For both colours I used alum as a mordant. (See this post for a tutorial on preparing yarn for dyeing).



For the light blue, I used approximately 150g of beans and spread them across the bottom of a large tupperware tub (about 7" x 12"), then I added about an inch of water. I soaked the beans for 12 hours, drained the water and put it to one side, then added another inch of water. I drained this water also and used both lots together to dye 25g of wool. After about 12 hours I added another 25g skein of wool, and a few hours after that I added yet another 25g skien. The first skein was soaked for about 24 hours, with the others removed at the same time. They all came out almost exactly the same colour. 

For the dark blue, I used about 100g of beans in a much smaller tub. This one was about 6" x 8" (a typical Chinese take-away tub if you live in the UK) and only just one inch deep, so I filled it almost to the top and followed the same process of soaking the beans for 12 hours, twice. This time the amount of liquid I ended up with was just over a jarful, so not very much. I soaked a 25g skein of wool for 48 hours. The jar was also in sunlight for part of the day (when I made the other blue there was barely any sun) so this may have had an effect on the intensity of the colour, but I think it's more the fact that the dye was more concentrated. 




As usual, leave a comment if this isn't clear enough and I will do my best to help!

- Kate

10 comments:

  1. This is so beautiful. I also recently discovered Cynthia's blog, and was intrigued by the blue from black beans. What a wonderful colour.
    Ok - you've reminded me again to give it a go. I work mainly with silks and cottons, as I don't have access to much wool. I'll see how it goes.
    Beautiful blog, and tumblr page. I'm enjoying my reading.

    ReplyDelete
  2. HI Kate,

    I am a textile designer and natural dyer living in Indonesia, and came across yr blog whilst looking for some wool scouring techniques.. I work with natural indigo , and was pretty amazed to find the black bean recipie for the blue colour. Wow !
    Did you use the baking soda as well ?

    Was the water you used tap or bottled water ?

    I am guessing it was more on the alkaline side, and didn't have any iron in it ...which is possibly what turned Cynthia's yarn green...
    Anyways, looking forward to hearing from you,

    Simon Marks

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    Replies
    1. Hi Simon Marks!

      I used tap water, I didn't really see bottled water as an option as I would have had to pay for it :p I think there must have been some iron in Cynthia's water yes, that would explain the colour! Eventually when I next have time I'm going to try iron sulphate as a mordant, so perhaps I will get green too.

      Kate

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    2. Oops, also no I didn't use baking soda :)

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  3. Thanks for your lovely blog and the inspiration!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Kate.

    Have you found a way -- or rather, the way -- to make the dye colorfast so that it will not change over time to gray as it fades?
    And do you have recipes of dyeing skeins of other materials like linen and cotton?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Kate.

    Have you found a way -- or rather, the way -- to make the dye colorfast so that it will not change over time to gray as it fades?
    And do you have recipes of dyeing skeins of other materials like linen and cotton?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Kate,
    I just discovered your blog and love it!
    Can't wait to read all your posts!

    ReplyDelete

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