Black Walnut Ink
History of the Black Walnut Tree
Black Walnut Trees, also known as English Walnuts are among the largest trees in Toronto growing to a height of one hundred feet. The Black Walnut tree has provided many different uses throughout history. The walnut itself has been a popular food among many cultures. Archeologists have found that walnut consumption in the Great Lakes region dates back to 2000 BC.
The wood of the Black Walnut tree is exceptionally hard and favoured by furniture makers. Furniture makers have also historically used the walnut husks to produce wood stains. Similarly the stain made from walnut husks has also been made into inks for scribes and dyes for weavers.
How the Ink is Made
Locate your local Black Walnut tree. Only pick the most rotten and black walnuts available. Normally these have dropped to the ground and can be gathered off the ground, you just have to beat the squirrels to them.
Remove the rotted husks from the walnuts and set them separately from the nuts and shells. Don’t be put off by the maggots that will most likely be growing in the husks, and don’t feel the need to remove them. Set the husks in a large non-reactive pot, cover with water and leave them over night. The next day, set the pot over the burner and bring to a low rolling boil. Allow the husks to boil for five hours. It’s best if this can be done outdoors as it produces a putrid odour. Strain the husk mixture through a cheese cloth and seal the liquid which is now the ink into jars.
Uses for Black Walnut Ink
Your Black Walnut Ink can be used as a stain for wood. Dip a clean rag into the jar and wipe it across a piece of wood. Do several coats. Avoid drips and over applying.
Wool or Fabric Dye
This requires a large amount of Black Walnut Ink. Fill and heat a pot of the Black Walnut Ink over the stove. Dunk your wool or fabric in the pot and allow setting for at least 10 minutes. Black Walnut Ink is naturally colour fasting on its own although adding an acid, such as vinegar, will help fasten the colour and prevent it from fading in the sun or wash.
Black Walnut Ink is a favourite amongst calligraphers. You can get a quill from your local art supply store and use it to write with. The ink can also be applied with a brush.