I've had a ton of questions about my use of walnut ink on my pages lately (you know - the brown ink-ish looking substance that sometimes looks like coffee spilled on my pages...lol).
Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing some tutorials on my favorite uses of Walnut ink for scrapbooking (and other paper crafts, even it's use with fabrics!). Including how to use it on the base of a page, how to apply it to the edges of a page, how to dye photos, and some other odds and ends uses of it, too. So stay tuned!
A Quick Introduction:
If you're new to scrapbooking, walnut ink might not be familiar to you at all! It's not very popular right now, and comes and goes in waves, I've found. I first discovered it 5-6 years ago, when it became popular in both crystallized and liquid forms - the whole 'distressing' thing was new, then.
I had read about it in every magazine and had to try some for myself, and, after I did, I quickly stocked up on a few containers of crystals right away from the local scrapbook store I worked at before the fad had passed, because I knew it was my favorite...lol. And I've used it ever since!
So what the heck is walnut ink, you ask?
Welp - it's a fairly natural ink derived from walnut shells, and can be used to dye or stain paper, chipboard, and even fabric! It's water soluble, so it easily washes off of your hands (and work surfaces), and can also be diluted with water to create different variations in the depth/strength of it.
Where can I buy it?
I got my crystals from Creek Bank Creations, but you can find it in most craft/scrapbook stores - just ask for/search/google 'walnut ink crystals', or find a walnut-ink-like distress ink like this. And a little container lasts for years! Literally. :)
Here's how you can dye your naked chipboard pieces with walnut ink to get a lovely, dark gradient on them to make some unique embellishments for your next page (or two):
- naked chipboard
- paper towel
- walnut ink crystals
- warm water
- empty container
- stir stick/popsicle stick
- naked chipboard
- acrylic paint (white)
- X-Acto knife
Step One: Gather your supplies and spread a few layers of folded paper towel under your empty container (make sure your container is big enough to hold the chipboard pieces you want to dye when they’re laid flat in it). Sprinkle a small amount of dry walnut crystals into the empty container and add a little bit of warm water to them to make the ink solution. Stir the warm water and crystals together using the stir/popsicle stick until there are no lumps and all of the crystals have dissolved.
(You can add more crystals or more water to the container if you think your mix is too weak/too dark, respectively – it takes some troubleshooting to test the’ strength’ of your walnut ink mix. You can test it by splashing a dot of it on white paper and letting it dry for a few minutes to see how dark it turns out. And to dye a few pieces of chipboard, you only need enough water to cover up your chipboard pieces completely once they’re fully submerged, but I like to mix a bigger batch and just put the lid on and keep it for next time).
Step Two: Take your ‘naked’ chipboard pieces and submerge them, laying flat, in the walnut ink solution (they like to float at first, so just push them down until they’re completely covered by the ink). Let them soak for around 10 minutes, or longer – depending on the size of them and how dark you want the final color (the longer you let them soak, the darker they will turn out once dry).
Step Three: Using your fingers (or tweezers, if you want your fingers to stay clean), pull out the thoroughly soaked chipboard pieces from the walnut ink solution and lay them to rest on a few folded paper towels. They will look evenly dyed, at this point, but the edges have really been soaked for longer – whichever side you leave facing up will be dry the darkest and have a gradient that’s darker at the edge, the underside will stay fairly light and evenly colored, so keep this in mind when placing them to dry.
(Optional) Before you lay the pieces down to dry, you can also distress the chipboard pieces while they’re still wet – you can use the sharp edge of an X-Acto knife to rough up the edges, peel or roll up the layers on the edge of the shape, or even bend or fold them to create creases before flattening them in the position you’d like them to dry in. Whatever you do will stay as the pieces dry, and they’re pliable enough to do a lot to, at this point!
Step Four: Let the pieces dry on the paper towels for a few hours (if they’re fairly small), or longer for larger pieces – I like to leave mine overnight, if time allows it. (You can also flip them upside-down in the middle of the drying time to evenly distribute the ink to both dies (this makes them more evenly dyed, instead of having a dark top and lighter bottom). And voila! You’ve got some lovely, dark, dyed walnut ink chipboard pieces to put on your page!
Additional/Optional Step - Make the edges pop!
Occasionally, I end up forgetting about pieces that are soaking, or mixing a too-dark solution, and accidentally dye my pieces a little too dark for the placement I originally had in mind on my scrapbook page – this simple solution, and a little paint, will help them pop right back out of a page: simply dip a flat brush in white paint (or a similar light-colored paint), and hold the dry chipboard piece between two fingers. Paint the edges of the piece with the flat edge of the brush lightly, turning it in your fingers as you go to cover all edges, and let it dry. This little step lightens the whole piece up just enough!
(As always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I'll clarify anything that's fuzzy! And thanks for all the sweet knitting ideas/tips, too! you guys rock!!) :)