Dyeing with black bean soaking water has been some kind of social media hit for a while now, since it’s easy way to produce blue and green – though not fast – dyes. The dye is made simply by soaking dry black beans in cold water over night, and then straining the beans off (which can be then used for eating). I have never tried out black beans before but now I needed to dye some black bean yarn samples. Of course I separated a tiny portion of the soaking water to dye some papers for anthotype as well, knowing that the poor lightfastness combined with blue shades could be just what I had searched for for one of my images.
I usually start my paper dyeing process with shiohara kozo and Nepalese lokta papers by placing them on my dye tray at the evening and on the morning I lift them up and dry flat on a clean paper. This time I proceed with the exactly same process. Yesterday evening the “dye” was still purplish blue and it looked like the papers would be well immersed with blue tones. This morning when I went to look at them, they were greenish, quite ill-coloured, and when I tried to lift them up, the lokta paper practically just mushed up. Also the kozo was a bit pulpy, but I managed to place it to try. They are still wet. I don’t know if I can handle them when they have been dried or if they’ll just crumble then…
The change of colour from a pretty blue to this odd greenish blue tone doesn’t really surprise me, since the dye is anthocyanin and very pH sensitive (reddish tones in acidic and bluer and then greener tones in basic and alkaline), but it’s the mushy effect on the papers. They are slimy and brittle and completely broken. I know these papers aren’t meant to be wetten this through and they are usually very sensitive after over-night soaking, but I have soaked them before even three or four days without this kind of effect ever happenning.
I guess there is an explanation somewhere… If some one knows what makes this happen, please, share your knowledge, I’d be glad to know!