Thursday, 27 May 2010

More on Walnuts

I must have been feeling particularly thick the other day when I said some catkins had fallen in the wind. Catkins are falling at a rate of knots, it's like a carpet all round the trees. Where they have fallen from there is now the nut forming between the leaves, so many of them I'm beginning to think I'd better do some pickling as well as dyeing!

I've been re-reading Ethel Mairet, who says that walnut husks have to be used green - once they have oxidised to brown it is too late and they won't dye properly. This got me thinking - if we can "reduce" indigo with thiourea dioxide why don't I try it with the brown walnut husks to see what happens.

I tried 3 different methods.

Method A

100g walnut husks were put into 50 degree water and soaked overnight. The next day the liquid was heated to boiling and they were simmered for an hour. Then allowed to cool overnight. The next day the husks were strained out and 100g pre mordanted Blarty fleece was added to the pan (I didn't have any scoured that wasn't pre mordanted otherwise I would have used that) The pan was heated to boiling again and simmered for 1 hour. Allowed to cool and the fleece removed, rinsed and put out to dry.

Method B

100g walnut husks were added to 50 degree water plus 1 tsp thiourea dioxide. A lid put on and the husks left to soak overnight (I checked the colour of the liquid both night and morning and there was no difference) The husks were then heated to boiling, simmered for 1 hour and then left to cool overnight. The next day strained and 100g pre mordanted Blarty fleece added, heated again and the rest of the experiment as for A.

Method C

100g walnut husks put into 50 degree water and left to soak overnight, the next day heated to boiling and simmered for 1 hour. Allowed to cool overnight. The next day they were strained out and the liquid heated back to 50 degrees, 1 tsp thiourea dioxide added and left to "reduce" for 2 hours. 100g pre mordanted Blarty fleece added and left to soak in the liquid overnight - I did not heat again with this fleece, it was left in teh air for 1 hour to see if anything happened, then rinsed and left to dry.

There are definitely differences between the three lots of fibre in terms of the colour produced. Method A is a more "orangy" brown, method B is what I would describe as a "truer" brown, method C is fawny. I think that method C has lost out on the extra heating so there is less uptake of the dyestuff - of the 3 methods I would try B again to see what happens in larger quantities.

I am particularly interested in experimenting with the fresh husks now though - to see if I can get them whilst they are green rather than turning brown.


Ladka said...

Interesting experiments and nice results! Did you use 100 grams of dry husks, ie dark brownish-black?
For me the walnut is the dyeing king (and the St. John's wort the queen - the former happens to be masculine gender and the latter feminine gender in Slovenian, my mother language). I'll be happy to read about your further experimenting with walnuts.

Helen said...

Hi Debbie that is a very interesting set of experiments. I have dyed with fresh walnut hulls in the autumn and got a beautiful golden brown.
But that was a long time ago and I cant remember the details. Of course it would be nice to make an ink with the walnuts. :) Helen