With Guests Come Gifts
My cousin who lives in Ohio is down for the Winter. He is so cool, always the “Hunter – Gatherer” he always finds such neat stuff, and he always shares. I love to be the recipient of this generous nature. He has a lovely garden that he takes care of when weather permits in Ohio, and frequently brings me some of the excess of his labors. This year it was butternut squash, luffa sponges, and lots of beautiful bulbs that have a hard time with the Ohio temperatures.
He also has a Black Walnut tree, and upon finding out that I love Black Walnut hulls for creating browns in dying fiber and staining wood, he is quick to collect what was once waste and share. He has taken an interest in this black gold himself and has done quite some research on it and found that boiling it with pennies can yield a warmer brown. I can’t wait to try this out, and to save me time trying, he has thoughtfully boiled some with pennies and stored it in soda bottles. So I can use it direct. While the browns I was getting from the hulls straight on wool looked warm enough to me, when I used it as a stain on wood, it did have an ashy greenish cast to it. So I’m excited to throw a skein of white yarn into it and paint some on some naked wood.
I don’t have a very scientific method of using the hulls. So far I have simply placed some in a paint strainer and boiled it in some water. Then I placed my wet fiber in the bath to simmer until I had the color I was looking for. I pick up a portion of the skein and wring it out and give it a look. When It looks right, I pull it out, wring it out gently and give it a good rinse in water and white vinegar (a healthy splash), and an additional rinse and set out to dry. I have used the same hulls over and over, and achieved varying colors by changing the boiling times, soaking times, and whether the fiber simply soaked or simmered.
On wood, I have a different approach. When I have remove the hulls from the water, I drain it into a container and collect the drippings. I use this water to stain wood. I’ve used this to stain my tapestry looms and covered them with tung oil. I just paint the stain on straight. I get nice warm browns on wool, on wood its a bit more ashy, so hopefully the pennies will help. I want to see how this works with wool. I think anything you soak in money has to be better, right? I want to try the stain he made as a direct set, applying it directly to the fiber and see if that works. I may need to dilute it. I’ll be certain to take lots of pictures. One lovely thing about dying with Black Walnut Hulls, is that no mordant is required, the natural tannins take care of that.