Over the summer months I’ve been busy with a number of plant dyeing projects which I hope to get around to recording now that autumn is here. I began harvesting material back in July by collecting windfall walnuts in a local park – the crop was fairly sparse but by making a few repeat visits I managed to get enough to produce several jars of ink/dye as well as some leaf contact prints.

Botanical contact printing with leaves onto either paper or fabric mainly involves applying heat, moisture and pressure over a period of time. In addition, extracting colour from the walnut husks for use as a dye or ink involves boiling, so it made sense to combine the two. Paper and leaves fitted nicely into a stainless steel frying pan and the blue and white enamel pot took care of the husks and nuts. The saucepan between the two contained clean water and served the dual purpose of weighing down the leaves and paper and transferring heat to the contents of the dye pot. After boiling the paper with the leaves and stems I left it to cool for twenty-four hours. Longer would have been good but I was impatient to investigate the results.

 

The dried and pressed book pages folded ready for sewing, together with a collection of ink experiments and potential collage pieces.

Walnut ink brush mark with Indian ink calligraphy. Leaf stems hardened and darkened during contact printing bound with walnut dyed bookbinding thread

Coptic book with walnut leaf printed covers. These darker prints were made separately to the book pages using an old and battered enamel roasting tin in place of the stainless steel pan along with some small rusty iron objects. Additional colour was added later using walnut ink.

The finished book pages printed and coloured with walnut leaves.

 

 

Text and images © Angela Williams 2017

Printing and dyeing with walnuts
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