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!

When you Are Waiting

It's the end of summer and the end of fair season. I'm always a little sad to see the last day of the Missouri state fair. 


This week has been just plain hard. We've been adjusting to life as normal and I feel my wheels spinning. I'm in this weird mental space where I'm kind of putting off art until September. In a week I'm going to start the 30 in 30 challenge, Bea will start preschool three times a week, and I'm going to be starting classes through Artist Inc. It's all a little overwhelming and it has put me in this place where I don't feel creative or capable. Maybe I'll just go hide in my garden. 


Despite all these feelings, I've still started a project that uses emotive drawings and quantum entanglement. I'm drawing on a giant roll of receipt paper. I'm envisioning myself as one particle communicating to another particle across an entire universe. What would I say? What would be worth knowing on the other edge of the universe?


The weather cooled down a little this week so I took Bea out on an epic quest to collect some walnuts. I'm going to make some walnut dye or ink. I've looked at a few recipes online and did manage to find an old stainless steel pot at a thrift store. I picked these walnuts off some low lying branches so I don't know if they are too green for making dye. I'm going to start off with what I have and if they don't  work then I'll get some more in September or October. I'm looking forward to harvesting some to eat too but I think it's still too early. Dying adventure! Here we go!

Kubo and the Two Strings opened Friday; Bea and I were right there standing in line for the opening. We've wanted to see it since we saw the trailer last year. It has all the stuff I enjoy...origami, shamisen, adventure, monsters, sassy monkeys... Bea has been a total fan girl ever since, complete with top knot and cardboard shamisen. She even the insists that we call her Kubo. Ian and I experienced the fun of constructing a shamisen out of cardboard. It even makes different tones. I'm a little proud of our toy-making skills. 

Bea's best intimidating Kubo face.

Bea's best intimidating Kubo face.

Reading: Year-Round Vegtable Gardener by Niki Jabbour. Maybe I'll try growing a fall crop.

Listening to; The Conversation Podcast. It's about art and artists and I'm learning a ton.

Cooking; Left over taco experimentation day. My best combination so far, baba ganoush, ham, pickled pablano peppers and lettuce.