If you are new to this series, welcome! DYEING WITH TRASH is a loose & easy collection of spontaneous natural dye projects using food refuse in the kitchen. 



This project’s star is Black Beans. As a dye source, black beans are known as a fugitive dye because their color is not wash or lightfast (meaning the color will fade over time). This can be avoided by mordanting your fabric, but this project is about playing with your food and finding moments of wonder at home. When this color fades, why not invite another color to stay a while later?



For this project, I chose to overdye two linen napkins and twisted them before putting them in an old yogurt jar. You could use rubber bands to create a pattern, tie your item in a knot or get weird and surprise yourself! Whatever item you choose to dye, have a container handy that is large enough for it to be fully submerged in the dye liquid.



What you’ll need: one pound bag of black beans, strainer, bowl, airtight container on the larger side, pH neutral soap (like ECOS or 7th Generation), and item(s) to dye. Be sure your item(s) are made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk or wool. Reconstituted cellulose fabrics like Rayon, Cupro or Lyocell may take the color as well.



Directions: Pour the dry beans into a strainer and rinse. Place the strainer inside a bowl (preferably one with a spout), then cover with water for 12-24 hours. If you plan to cook your beans, closer to 12 hours and definitely no more than 24 hours is best.

Meanwhile, consider what you would like to dye! The color will be somewhere in the lavender to grey world. You can also modify the pH with Baking Soda to shift the color to green.

Next, wet your item(s), then place in your container. Pour the liquid from your black beans into the container until your item(s) is generously covered by it. Replace the lid and let sit for 24-48 hours.

Remove your item(s) from the liquid, rinse and gently wash with a teeny bit of your pH neutral soap (diluting first) and enjoy! This shade will be fleeting, revel in its constant transformation. Here's a link to the recording we created outlining the process.

Don't forget to make your beans!



August 25, 2021 — Miranda Bennett

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