Witch's brew

This is a small tutorial on making walnut dye; my first floundering in the world of natural dying. Let us jump right in! 

I have some storm damaged black walnut trees in my neighborhood with low hanging branches packed with walnuts that haven't dropped yet. On a particularly cool and cloudy day my daughter and I picked the green walnuts right off the branches and brought home about fifteen to start dying. If you are gathering them off the ground, make sure you go for the green ones. 


Even though my source said to soak for three days, I soaked the walnuts in water for about a week.  I soon discovered that a week of soaking was too long. Some people don't soak them at all, but my busy life meant I kind of forgot them in the garage over the weekend. The key is to use a large stainless steel pot for the soaking and dye making. These little guys might eat through a plastic bucket, or stain it pretty good. 


Last night I finally got the time and gumption to boil the revolting stuff. There may have been a little mold growing on the water, I'm  not really sure. The smell was pretty bad and the fan above the stove couldn't quite keep up with it. I suggest opening windows or boiling outside if you can. After half an hour of boiling the water started to look thick and dark brown. I continued to boil it for about two hours. 

Time to strain the husks out! Then I put it in sealed jars for later dying. Maybe I'll use this ink/dye in the 30 in 30 challenge.

This weekend I taught ikebana at Powell Gardens to a couple of lovely students. I got my flowers from a local flower farm in Warrensburg, Earth Care Farms. They were so great about letting me romp around in their fields so I could pick flowers that were not only lovely but in season. It always makes me happy to show people ikebana plant combinations that they could take from their own surroundings. 

Yesterday began the 30in30 challenge. I'm going to be posting my daily creations on Facebook and Instagram. I looked at the first batch of paintings yesterday on the 30in30 blog and my stuff seems so different. But again, I'm a fiber artist among painters. I still think this is going to get me back into a more consistent work creating schedule so I'm sticking with it. 

Reading: Dinner Pies by Ken Haedrich. Besides being a fabulous book of the ins and outs of a good dough and filling, the best part was the forward to his wife in the beginning. It had me rolling on the floor laughing. I started looking at fillings for quiche and Ian said sternly, with much emphasis, while pointing his finger at me, "Don't change your quiche"! Well goodness, maybe I'll try my hand at meat pies instead. 

Listening to: 99% Invisible podcast episode On Average. So fascinating! It talks about the Air Force, the A-10, female pilots and a world without adjustable seats. 

Cooking: I tried something a little different this time. My vegan and vegetarian friends would be proud. I made stuffed peppers where the main ingredients in the stuffing were tofu and beans, besides the tomatoes and green onions. It actually turned out really good. Tofu gives it a real creaminess. Always get the tofu in the sale bin!