Not making black walnut ink was the highlight of the week thus far. I learned so much and didn’t even make a mess. Let me rephrase that last bit: “BUT I didn’t even GET to make a mess”. I needed to connect with my new walnut ink-making “friends” and share a more visceral experience in dye.
And when I say visceral, I mean “proceeding from instinct rather than intellect” (dictionary.com)
Merely writing about it just wasn’t going to cut it. The foray would be mine alone (taking a page from our homeschooling friend who left her kids out of the process as well). I donned a pair of disposable vinyl disposable gloves because:
Besides staining your skin, heavy exposure to the juice of walnut husks can also cause soreness, especially under the fingernails. If you get squirted by walnut juice (as might happen if you hit one with a hammer or stick) it is a good idea to wipe or rinse it immediately, as it can cause a burn-like sore, especially where the skin is thin. (source)
I slipped away to my deck, where the black walnuts loomed in their poison pigment pomp.
How’s that for an alliteration?
There would be no boiling, no rigorous husking, and (perhaps somewhat unfortunately) no vodka. Just the walnuts and I. And a stainless steel knife and some paper.
I cut chunks off the husks and rubbed them on the paper.
The husks that had already begun to oxidize (turn black) let off dark ink. And the freshly cut husks that were still quite green yielded a yellow ochre:
Which was convenient as it was quite windy. I cut some of the pieces in smaller strips to use like a marker and drew:
You knew that was coming, right?
I laughed out loud when I spotted some husk maggots. Gross. But I didn’t kill any. On purpose.
My inky foray only lasted ten minutes. Then I lifted the whole mess into the trash bin. Because the pictures weren’t really that good. I mean, a walnut tree drawn in walnut ink? What ever would I do with such an obvious cliché? Plus I think there was some maggot juice on the papers. Gross.
So now you know how to draw in shades of ochre and brown, using black walnuts.
In less than 10 minutes.
This blog has a PG rating, it is a children’s garden after all. But this is (yet another) process of ink making to consider if you are over 21:
Take a bushel (whatever that is) of black walnuts. Let them sit in the bushel for a while…let them sit a bit longer…head indoors after contemplating the bushel of black walnuts and pour yourself a stiff vodka. Next, head outside again for another perusalatory (yeah not a word but it SHOULD be…) glance at that foreboding bushel of black walnuts. Go inside again and have just another shot of vodka. Think about the walnuts while you are holding the shot glass in your hand and warming your next sip…start to wonder about what exactly the meaning of a bushel of walnuts means in relation to your own ethos as you pour another shot glass and knock it back with the gusto of the righteous…stand up (unsteadily) and look out the window at the bushel of walnuts…wonder why they are moving around and steady your walk back to your vodka bottle as the walls appear to be suffering the same problem as the bushel of nuts. Sit down. Stay down. Drink some more vodka. Pass out. Wake up the next day and hurl the bushel of black walnuts into the compost heap as your thumping headache and sudden aversion to fried eggs was OBVIOUSLY brought about by those bloody walnuts! Swear NEVER AGAIN and go all Straight Edge on walnuts. (Thanks Narf!)
And that pretty much wraps up this particular species of nut. But there are many more.
And I think I ought to try and make glue out of hedgeapple sap.
But first I may need to get a helmet.
My biggest complaint about osage orange [hedgeapples], while on the topic, is the possibility of getting beaned by one while walking beneath it! This may sound paranoid, but I had a walnut fall on my head from 70 feet or so up, and man did THAT ever feel bad. I imagine a hedge apple falling on your head could crack a skull! (source)