Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Natural dyeing with hickory nuts

Hickory nuts and leaves; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
On a recent visit to my parents' farm, my hubby and I gathered 18 pounds of hickory nuts. They are small, so it took us a while to fill two grocery bags.
Hickory nut husk; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2013
Hickory nuts are not mentioned in any of my natural dye books, but I did find a few mentions on the internet. There's probably a good reason for that, but I decided to see if the nuts would yield any colour. I soaked one batch of nuts and their husks in distilled water from the dehumidifier for a few days and am now simmering the vat on low over several days. I've thrown a small square of fabric in to see if there's any colour. My first observation is that the vat is slightly oily from the nuts. I'm confident that they will at least offer up some tannin to the vat. So far the fabric swatch is a mottled tan, nothing to get excited about.

Ninety percent of the husks are brown. Green husks probably yield more colour. Yesterday I separated husks from the nuts and will see if the husks yield any colour in a second vat. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

While visiting my parents, I also collected four pounds of Shademaster Honey locust seed pods and I'll see if they offer any colour once I have an empty dye pot (I also have a vat of black walnut dye on-the-go). I've read that the seeds are tannin-rich and that the pods were a source of food for First Nations peoples.

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