Did I mention before that I’m not good at doing well-structured reviews?
Well, I’m not.
Nevertheless I’ve started one, and I’m going to finish it. Anytime now.
Next plant waiting in line is the walnut tree.
I like walnuts.
The walnut tree, Juglans regia, is a very old tree, existing already in the tertiary. It survived the glacial periods in the regions of Syria, west- and southanatolia, and belongs to the botanical family Juglandaceae, which includes a variety of walnut-relatives, but nothing you – or I – should know.
The colour-bearing part of the walnut is the outer covering of the fruit. (in the picture above, the green stuff that is not leaves) If you know walnuts only from the supermarket you wont know what I mean. If you ever found a walnut tree in the fall, pealed the green-brown covering away from the nut, and then for a week had brown hands that smelled funny – you know which part I mean.
And I think you also will understand why it’s used for dyeing.
The book says the colour will be a quiet and warm brown.
I don’t doubt it.
Strangely the process is more difficult and time consuming then one would assume, given the tinting qualities of the green outer shells.
What you need to do is to collect the coverings, chop them to rough pieces and then let them dry. They will shrink, turn into a dark brown colour and become realy hard if not unbreakable. (If they are completely dried, you can store them for as long as you wish to.)
If you want to extract the colour you have to drain the pieces in water overnight. The next day you cook them in alum solution for at least an hour, if you want to even longer. The colour is supposed to turn deeper the longer you keep cooking.
If you think you’re ready you can strain the remaining shells through a piece of linen.
Of course I dried a part of the sap in a shell. It turned out quite nice, although strangely … un-dry. A bit like a cross between candy and really thick syrup. A bit sticky, and glossy and sort of elastic.
I tried to make pigments from the sap. I believe I told you how I do this some time before?
Did not work. The mass did not want to dry completely but stayed in a strange flexible, half-dry state not unlike the stuff you can see in the shell. I had to throw it away, it refused to detatch itself from the plate on which it was supposed to dry.
Last but not least, here’s a drawing done completely with the one, above mentioned shell.
I really like the colour, and I like drawing it.
The only problem is the storage of the shell. It’s sticky and it does not play well with other shells. For the moment I have it in solitary confinement on the shelf.