PAINTING AND DYEING: alternative uses for coffee and coffee grounds

Another article of our “eco-friendly series”, dedicated to recycling coffee grounds, and not only. In fact, in this one, you will discover some alternative uses for coffee pucks, but also for that few drops of coffee left on the bottom of your mug or cup! Curious to know how?

Make yourself an espresso, a coffee or even a cappuccino with your Gaggia machine and get ready to free your creativity.

Dyeing fabrics / Boiling method

Dyeing fabrics with coffee grounds is very easy! Depending on the amount of coffee grounds used, the fabric will be a darker or lighter shade of brown.

The type of fabric to be dyed is essential for the success of this process. In order for the dye to be absorbed evenly, the garment must be made of natural fiber, such as linen, wool or cotton. Synthetic fibers, in fact, do not absorb color as well.

1. To start, the first step is to wash the fabric and dry it normally to remove dirt and any oily substances that could affect the dyeing.

2. Prepare the ingredients: 100 grams of fabric need about 80 grams of coffee grounds. If you want a darker color tone, increase the quantity of coffee per water used. To fix the color on fabrics, use a spoonful of salt for each liter of water.

3. Pour water in a large pot and add coffee grounds and salt. Bring it to the boil. Then, turn off the heat and immerse the garments you would like to color. Stir with a wooden spoon.

4. Leave the garments in hot water for at least one hour.

5. Take the garments out, rinse them well with plenty of cold water and place it back in another pot, together with a little water and white wine vinegar for at least 10 minutes. This will ensure a better result.

6. Rinse well again and let the clothes dry out in the sun.

7. Last but not least, wash the clothes with cold water in the washing machine. Be careful not to mix these freshly dyed garments with other clothes!

Dyeing fabrics / Dry method

Let’s see together another method to dye fabrics. After washing the garments or clothes of your choice, let them dry as you usually do. Then:

1. Prepare the ingredients: for a cup of ground coffee, use a spoonful of water. Put them together into a big bowl or container, and mix well with a wooden spoon. The result should be a coarse paste.

2. Spread the mixture obtained on top of the fabric and crush it well with the wooden spoon, so that coffee can penetrate as much as possible between the fibers. To avoid damage to the underlying surfaces, it is advisable to perform this operation on top of a waterproof sheet!

3. Once done, let the dyed garment dry out of direct sunlight. When ready, with the help of a toothbrush, remove the coffee grounds.

4. Finally, iron the garments to eliminate any creases.

Painting wood

With coffee grounds you can even paint wood, giving it a beautiful shiny effect.

Before starting, please note that sanding wood is essential. This will make it smooth and ready to absorb coloring. Then, remember to remove all the extra dust.

The quantity of coffee you need to make depends on how big is the surface you need to color, and on how dark you like the shade. Crumble the coffee grounds and add a bit of water to them, according to your needs. Then, start painting.We suggest to test a tiny part of the surface in order to have an idea of how the final result will look like, in advance. After the first coat of color, and before passing on it again, let it dry well.

Drawing on paper

Coffee Painting is a technique based on shades and contrasts of light and dark nuances of the same color. As with watercolor, you need to start with the lightest shade as background, and add layers of color on it.

Here, the skyline of Milan painted on paper, using coffee

This method allows you to create monochromatic paintings, where the image is entirely sculpted in the contrast of intensity of the shades of brown. Which coffee to use?

You can experiment with different drinks prepared by your Gaggia machine (once cooled down, of course). Depending on the percentages of water and coffee, each drink will color paper differently. But, if you would like to be a true eco-friendly coffee drinker, why not to use those few drops of coffee left at the bottom on your mug, once you have enjoyed your Americano?

Remember to let your painting dry for at least 24 hours. Then, if you decide to frame it, you can also apply a thin layer of varnish on the sheet, so as to ensure a better preservation.