Natural Dyeing with Walnut husks
Preparing Walnut husks for natural dyeing. The husks create a deep, rich, brown color, & the natural colorant 'juglone' creates a 'substantive' dye, which means it does not need a mordant with protein fibres (such as wool). I work mainly with substantive dye plants & fabrics which don't require mordants, keeping my wild dyeing process as simple & natural as possible.
Here I'm dehusking the European Walnut from my friends garden, saving the nuts for eating, and the husks for dyeing, but I've since collected Black Walnut, which is the superior dyeing walnut.
The European Walnut (Juglans Regia), aka Persian Walnut is native to Asia, from the Balkans to China. Walnut cultivation dates back to Babylon, circa 2000 B.C. Archaeological excavation of Neolithic sites in southwest France has uncovered roasted walnut shells, indicating walnuts were eaten in Europe at least 8000 years ago. (I love all those Neolithic discoveries, incl. Fat Hen & Dock seeds in human tummies)...
The Greeks are thought to have started selectively breeding Walnuts, and it was cultivated across Europe & North Africa by the Romans. By the Middle Ages, walnuts were cultivated as far north as England. In the 1800's the Walnut was taken to North America where it became known as the 'English Walnut'.
The Black Walnut (Juglans Nigra) - is native to North America. It's nuts are considered inferior for eating to the European Walnut. Black Walnut is highly prized for natural dyeing, and also it's medicinal properties. I've tinctured some of the green husks for a natural remedy for treating internal parasites. It's also reported to treat cancer, if you have any experience using Black Walnut for this I'd love to hear from you!
Walnuts are among the most nutritious of all nuts. On average, 100g of shelled walnuts provide:
15g of protein
65g of fat of which 90% is unsaturated fat
14 g carbohydrates, including 7 g dietary fiber
Calories per 100g: 650
0.34 mg Thiamin
0.54 mg Vitamin B6
98 µg Folate
3.4 mg Manganese
1.6 mg Copper
158 mg Magnesium
346 mg Phosphorus
441 mg Potassium
3.1 mg Zinc
2.9 mg Iron
98 mg Calcium
You can see why my assistant Kiki is so interested in these nuts!