Black walnut dye best practices?



Moderators: caedmon, Greg

User avatar
SierraStrider
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:54 pm
Location: California
Contact:

Black walnut dye best practices?

Postby SierraStrider » Wed Oct 02, 2019 11:47 pm

Heya. I've been doing a fair bit of sewing and leatherworking recently. I was delighted to read that black walnut dye was useful, because I have a very large number of black walnut trees and they're in season! I made myself a batch of dye based on what I could find on the internet and...was pretty underwhelmed. It seems to do a great job of dyeing my fingers, but has only minimal effects on most other things.

Is there something I'm missing for getting darker colors with it? Cloth and leather both look great...until you rinse them, then you wind up with a lot of rich, brown water and some leather or linen that's only a few shades darker than when it went in. Maybe I'm not soaking the leather for long enough? I boiled the linen in the mixture for quite some time, and prepared it with iron liqor and salt, respectively.

You all have any tips?
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 2007
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: Black walnut dye best practices?

Postby Elleth » Thu Oct 03, 2019 2:16 am

Ooof.

I have had some decent success, but even now find it more frustrating than I'd like. Generally speaking:


- linen just generally doesn't take natural dye well, period. It was the same way historically: looking at contemporary pictures the underlinens are white/natural color and only the overclothes (generally of wool) have much color to them. (Wool takes natural dye *much* better.). I've found by starting with a grey/natural linen I can get a medium brown, but only my oilcloth is particularly dark.

- I've heard of people mixing up a good proper leather dye from walnut, but even with a heavy sludge I've not gotten particularly good results on its own. The secret ingredient there is suntanning - leave the leather in a hot (but not too hot) bath overnight, then around midmorning on a bright sunny day leave your leather lying out in the sun. Anything that's in shadow / curls up / blows over won't change color. Anything exposed to warm sunlight the whole time can get fairly dark. I've found for a nice dark brown I need to do 3-4 cycles of overnight dye then sun. Even then it doesn't always work. I think there's a particular magic related to how fast the leather dries out compared to how much light it gets, but I've not nailed that down yet.

Regardless, dubbining it gets you another couple shades darker, and walnut-dyed dubbined leather will also darken with age and use.

If none of that works, provided you're using a good oak-tanned leather, a light vinegar-iron wash will darken it. Work with a test piece though - some goatskin I've used just got a bit darker grey/brown, but a nice piece of Hermann Oak will go straight to black right away.

And that's all I know.
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
SierraStrider
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:54 pm
Location: California
Contact:

Re: Black walnut dye best practices?

Postby SierraStrider » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:04 am

Elleth wrote:...And that's all I know.


Thanks a ton. The 'hot, but not too hot' part also seems key--I accidently overheated a pouch by just a hair today in the dye bath and it almost ruined it. Got a relatively nice color to it, but the texture suffered.

I like your combination idea...I've experimented a little with vinegaroon, and I can't say I'm in love with it on its own. Black leather feels more "Hell's Angels" (Utumno's Maiar?) than "Forest Wanderer", but a sufficiently dilute solution to darken it a bit without going all the way to black seems appealing. Not least because I've seen examples of vinegaroon degrading leather quite badly over time if you have too much iron and not enough tannin in the leather to fully react with it.

Return to “Crafts & Skills”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests