DYE WITH WALNUT HUSKS (juglans nigra)
I am so fortunate to have a magnificent walnut tree in the garden and from which I am able to make the most beautiful brown dye. The dye is made from the husks – not the nuts.
Walnut leaves and husks yield a lovely rich dye that doesn’t require a mordant. It leaves the yarn very soft and shiny.
When the first – almost black dye bath is exhausted you can add some more water and get a range of colours from a soft brown to an earthy colour.
Put the husks in a fabric bag which will act as a strainer. Add sufficient water to cover the husks and soak for three days.
Simmer the husks for an hour then remove from the heat and leave them to soak overnight.
The following day, drain the liquid from the husks into another container and throw the husks away, or store the fabric bag inside a plastic bag and freeze to be used again. Whilst you are doing this, soak your material or yarn which is to be dyed in water. (You should not compost walnut husks or leaves as they contain juglone, a chemical released by walnut trees, which is toxic to some vegetables and plants)
Strain the liquid through fine muslin to remove any solids. Add this to a stainless steel dye bucket with about 10 litres of water. When you are ready to dye your material or yarn immerse it into the dye bath and allow the material to simmer gently for about 2 hours stirring frequently. Make sure you keep the lid on the dye bucket as any splashes will be impossible to remove! Also, don’t forget your gloves! Turn off the heat and leave to cool overnight.
Remove the material from the dye bath and wash and rinse until the water runs clear.
Dry in the shade. Never wring fabric, or the dye will streak.
You can store the dye in glass storage containers. The dye may eat through plastic bottles if stored long term. The dye may also be stored in the freezer for future use.
If you are a basket maker you can use this dye to stain your baskets beautiful earthy tones
Wood can be stained using walnut dye
WALNUT INK is a beautiful dark brown colour that is often seen on old letters and manuscripts. To make the ink you will need 50g of dried walnut husks. English or Black walnut will work equally well. Add 500ml of boiling water and simmer for 8 hours. Keep the lid on the pan to prevent splashing. Aim to reduce the liquid by half. Add a few rusty nails to the pan if you wish to produce an even darker colour ink. Strain through cheesecloth and a strainer. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of vinegar and stir until the salt dissolves. Leave to cool. Pour the ink into a glass jar and keep it tightly closed.