I have a walnut tree, and have heard of making stain from the green hull of the walnut. Can you tell me how? Also what would the shelf life be, and could it be frozen or preserved in another way since the walnuts only fall once a year?
Jeff Jewitt: Gather the husks when they fall to the ground in the fall, and bring them inside. Put the gathered husks in an enamel pot, and cover them with tap water, but measure the amount of water you use. Add one ounce sodium carbonate (Arm & Hammer® Washing Soda works) for every quart of water used. The washing soda helps to extract the dye from the husks. Simmer it for two days on low heat, and then bottle it after it cools. For every quart of bottled stain add several “pinches” of boric acid to prevent microbial growth. You can find boric acid, along with sodium carbonate and aluminum potassium sulfate. This stain produces a nice basic brown, but isn’t very light-fast. An alum mordant applied before the dye will help the light-fastness and doesn’t change the color of the dye. The mordant is made by dissolving one ounce of alum powder (aluminum potassium sulfate) in a quart of warm water. Apply the mordant, let it dry, then apply the walnut stain.