16 August 13 • SCB

I have been really excited about the natural dying instructions that MAV put together with the help of our assistant Chloe in 3191 Quarterly Issue No. 12 (the positive response to this issue has been great—thank you!!), and this week I finally had a chance to try it out. Dying with natural dyes appeals to me on so many levels—the economy and ease, freedom from harsh chemicals or pollutants, and the lovely, subtle colors that result.

I decided to try their instructions for using black beans first, both because I am devoted to grey and blue hues and because I had them on hand in my pantry. I chose to dye a white tank top with navy blue polka dots—I loved it, but it was a little bold and contrasty for my personal style (I often over-dye patterns to make them more subtle).

MAV gives instructions for using an Alum mordant for a deeper hue and without for a subtle color. I was hoping for a cool gray, so I didn’t use the mordant.

The result was exactly what I was hoping for—a soft blue-gray chambray hue.

And the best part? You can still cook up the beans afterwords! I cook my soaked black beans covered in water in my slow cooker with garlic and cumin and freeze them in mason pint jars. Time for taco night!