Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dyeing with Black Walnuts

 Black Walnuts in the pot

My first adventure with Black Walnut dyeing. I received a box full of freshly picked Black Walnuts from my friend Tammy’s dreaded trees. I’ve searched the internet for ‘how to dye with these nuts’ and come up with lots of variations. Sounds like whatever you do, you will come up with some sort of dyeing success. So, I’m hopeful of good results. I’m also impatient so I will sort of follow the recipes that are quick and easy, which is ‘my way’ as Frank Sinatra would say.

I covered the bottom of a graniteware 5 gallon pot with the black walnuts, hulls and nuts, green and black and some with mold growing from them. This pot is/was a lovely mustard color, I’m afraid it won’t stay this color, on the inside at least.

I covered them with water plus some so I have a depth of about 8 inches of water and nuts.
Put the kettle on the stove to bring to a boil. Then I will boil them for 30 minutes.  15 minutes into bringing the pot to a boil process and the water is quite black.  After 30 minutes of simmering, the fabric was added and continued simmering for another hour.

Fabrics in the bath are: 1 yd cotton sateen, ½ yard basic cotton, 1 yd of partially pre-dyed damask that I then pleated in 2 inch pleats and hand stitched with quilt thread to hold the pleats. Also some misc. unknown content pieces of fabric. I’ll have to weigh it when its done dyeing.

Pre dyed:

After 1 hour in the simmering pot, the fabric looked about milk chocolate color, I was aiming for a darker brown so I decided to add 5 large rusty washers and let it simmer another hour.

Then I added red wine vinegar, about a cup and let it soak another 24 hours.   After 24 hours I rinsed, then tossed in the washer with synthrapol and a little laundry detergent, warm wash, cold rinse, then Dryer.

First dye results:

I’m not happy with the weak color, like a faded milk chocolate. I will re-dye again with more black walnuts. Some of the pieces turned out lovely, like the silk lining very dark brown, satin nice antiqued color and the fine loosely woven unknown content napkins.

Initial weight of full batch is 15 oz. I re-dyed 11 oz. the 1 yd of cotton sateen, half yard of misc. cotton and large damask piece.

In the re-dye I used the leftover dye and added another layer of green hulls. I boiled it for 45 minutes then put the fabric in overnight with the cover on to keep it warm. Well, it ended up being a week rather than overnight. I didn’t have time to rinse and thought, hey, what the heck, if one night is good, a week is better.

So this weekend I finally removed the fabric from the dye pot and hung it on the line outside to dry to enhance the setting of the dye, then I ironed it to possibly improve the adherence by heat setting the dye again. Then I washed and dryed the fabric in the dryer.

Results: The second batch did dye slightly darker than the short term dyeing. I am not enthralled with the results. I was hoping that the cottons would dye as dark as the silk kimino lining that turned a lovely rich warm coffee color. Overall I am happy with the results and will try this again.

Original results on the left, redyed on the right ( not a significant difference):

You never know what you’re going to get with natural dyeing, at least I don’t. Its always an adventure. The excitement is in the expectation for me. I realized I am an experimenter in my cooking and dyeing and many things I do. I enjoy trying new things, it’s the excitement of new discoveries that I am after.