When it comes to working with baskets, wood and some other things there are certain supplies the average person simply can’t make themselves. Paint, for instance, is something people have to buy; a regular person just can’t manufacture it themselves. The same is not true of things like stain and dye. You can make your own walnut or pecan dye, and save a lot of money, by starting with the nuts themselves!
Gather or purchase walnuts and/or pecans. After the dying process is complete, and the stain applied to the chosen object, walnut dye will dry a brown shade and pecan dye will be an orangish-red color. Nuts should be gathered in the fall – from September to mid-October or so. The dyes are made from the hulls of the nuts and not the meat.
Of course, it takes some time to crack all those nuts and separate the meat from the hulls. After that, the rest is done over several days but is not difficult. Place the hulls in a knee-hi stocking or fabric bag. This helps keep the hulls together while allowing excess water to be strained.
Set the bag of hulls in a pan of water. The water should be just enough to cover the bag; all hulls should be completely immersed. Allow the hulls to remain in the water for three days. Boil the hulls and water for a couple of hours then remove from the heat. Allow to sit overnight then drain. Hulls can be thrown away at this point.
Use a funnel and coffee filter to strain the liquid and remove any chunks or pieces that remain. The liquid should be strained into a glass jar. The dye is strong enough that, over a period of time, it can eat through plastic. Although the dye can be poured into plastic squirt-bottles to use it should then be poured back into the glass container.
To dye large items you can immerse them in a bath of the dye. To do this, wet the object well, then immerse. Stir the water often and allow the piece to sit until desired shade is reached. Other methods of applying the dye include a foam paintbrush or even a soft cloth.
The walnut or pecan dye can be stored for a long period of time, however, after awhile it tends to develop mold. To retard this, add a little vinegar to the solution.