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Walnut Dye for Basketry

Making Walnut Dye is Easy

You will need the following items:

  • approximately 100 whole black walnuts, tied in a pillowcase
  • 1 30-gallon plastic garbage can
  • water
  1. Place the walnuts in a pillowcase or similar sack. Tie the pillowcase with a thin rope, leaving the rope long enough to drape outside of the garbage can.
  2. Put the sack of walnuts in the garbage can (from hereon referred to as the dye pot).
  3. Fill with water to within 4-6 inches of the top of the dye pot.
  4. Let it steep until the dye achieves the desired color.
  5. The dye will keep for 6-12 months, depending on weather conditions. I store mine in the carport, next to the house.
  6. Please note: If you use boiling water, your dye will develop a lovely, warm color almost immediately. Within a couple of weeks, the dye will also develop a very strong and unpleasant odor. A basket dyed in this brew will require a good airing in sunlight and fresh air before coming in the house.

Thanks to Billie Ruth Sudduth for permission to use her recipe for walnut dye.

No walnuts? These same directions will work with other nuts. You do not have to have the whole nut--just the shells. Pecan shells will also make a rich, warm dye. And you can certainly make smaller amounts of dye. Reduce the water to match the amount of nut shells you have.

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