Tutorial: Walnut Ink - How to Dye Photos with Walnut Ink. (#4 of 5)
I remember using this technique *years* ago after first reading that it was possible in some scrapbook magazine or another. And I was hooked! It wasn't, however, always executed well by myself, and has taken a bit to be successful at after the first few really dark results! lol.
It's way too easy to over-dye a photo, at first, and it takes a lot of patience (aka drying time) to do, but it's a great, fairly quick way to get a sepia look at home for your black and white photos - and once you learn how to do it, you have lots of control over the dying process. :)
This tutorial is a bigger one with a few options, so here goes!
- a matte photo to dye/alter (please use a copy/duplicate, not an original!)
- paper towel (previously-stained-but-dry towels work perfectly!)
- walnut ink crystals/walnut ink liquid
- warm water, mixing container, & stir stick (if you're using ink crystals)
- paintbrush (medium or large size, with a flat side/edge works best)
- a little bit of drying time
(I also seal my walnut ink in the container so I always have some at the ready - this will save you from mixing a new batch every time you want to use some! Also note my well-loved paper towel reuse - after a dye job, I fold them up and keep them for next time).
TECHNIQUE ONE - Dying The Edges
This is really similar to the way I showed you how to do this technique to paper edges, only a teeny bit different/photo-friendly.
Step One: Holding your photo by the edges, with your walnut mix in a container that's as long as the longest side of your photo, dip each side/edge of the photo into the walnut ink mixture (the depth will depend on how far in you'd like the dark edges to go), until all edges are covered.
There will be a little bit of extra ink that gathers in large droplets/blobs around the edges, and if there's too much, press one edge of the photo lightly onto a piece of paper towel and tilt it until the excess ink slides off.
Step Two: Holding the photo lightly on the still-dry part of it (the middle, in this case), tilt the photo around in your hand to move the rest of the ink that's on the edges around while it's still wet until it's where you'd like it/evenly distributed. Set the photo down to dry.
Step Three: Your edges should be visibly darker once the first layer has dried, but if you'd like it darker/layered-looking, repeat step one (once the photo is completely dry). Play around with the ink on the edges and move it around so it dries haphazardly, too! Repeat as needed until the effect is achieved, and let the photo dry completely before handling.
Alternate way to apply this technique: Use a paintbrush to apply the ink to the edges of the photo (instead of dipping it in the ink). This results in a more uneven, hand-dyed look - I often use it to build up additional layers of color after my first initial application using the dip method. :)
TECHNIQUE TWO - Tinting a Photo
For this technique, you're going to apply dye all over a photo to tint the color. This will give black and white photos a sepia tone, and color photos more of a vintage look - this photo also utilized the 'dying edges' technique, above.
Step One: Make sure your walnut ink mixture is in a container that's wide/long enough to accommodate the width of the photo you want to alter (a shallow, square sandwich container works great for this!). Pick up the photo you'd like tinted and, holding it by the sides, gently sweep it through the ink from edge to edge until the whole photo has been submerged. (You don't want to soak it, you just want to cover the surface with ink as you pull it through.
Step Two: As soon as you've run the photo through the dye, you'll notice that there's some ink left gathering on the surface of the photo. Holding the photo by the edges/backside, place one edge down on a paper towel and tip the photo at a 45 degree angle or so until the access ink runs off the surface.
Step Three: Rest the photo down on dry paper towel so that this layer of ink can dry. (You should notice a slight tint at this point - if not, make your ink mixture stronger for the next dunk/layer). As it dries, you might notice more ink collecting around the edges - repeat the tilting technique to get rid of any extra ink, or leave it be to achieve darker areas.
Step Four: Repeat the process two or three more times until you achieve the desired tone, drying the photo completely in between each ink application. (If you don't wait for the ink to dry completely, the ink you've already applied will just resist and no more ink will be added to the photo - if one layer dries first, the next layer will build up on top of it and the image will become darker).
Alternate way to apply this technique: Use a paintbrush to apply ink over the whole image, instead of dunking it. This works well if your brush is large enough to cover the photo with just a few strokes, and if you like more variation/texture in the tint throughout the image, as you'll get brush strokes and walnut ink lint left on the surface, sometimes. :)
TECHNIQUE THREE - Custom Combination/Distressing/Aging
Now that you're comfortable with the ink + photos, you can play around and combine layers and splashes for custom photo effects and tints. For example:
Step Two: Dye the edges (if you wish), according to Technique One's instructions (you'll notice it won't take as many coats on the edges if the base has already been tinted). Combining both of these techniques gives it a great depth.
Step Three: Experiment! Try flicking splashes of dye using a paintbrush on top of some areas of the photo to further age it, or try dripping almost-dry edge ink down onto the photo itself. Have fun! Repeat layering as needed in your experiment, and accept happy accidents! :)
And Some Important Tips To Keep In Mind As You Work:
1. Whenever you get a photo wet, you risk damaging it! Never rub or scrape at the surface of a photo that's wet, or it will not stay intact (unless that's the look you're going for, of course!). Handle it by holding it by the edges until it's dry, and avoid putting your fingerprints on the image itself!
2. Also, it's important to use a matte photo - not glossy - for the best result with this direct-to-photo dying technique (glossy tends to repel anything you do to it, unless you sand the glossy off first). Not paper, either - if you print a photo on normal paper ad try this, it'll just soak through (although that might be another cool effect!).
3. And don't use this technique on an original photo!! Please, no! I've messed up a few photos in my time doing this (duplicates, of course - but thank goodness!), so make sure you practice on a few photos until you get the feel for it, and always use copies!
4. To get rid of/ease the waiting time (wet photos can take a while to dry!), try setting up an assembly line of sorts & dye multiple photos at once so you're busy while you're 'waiting'.
Stay tuned for Tutorial #5 in the series of 5: Other Fun Walnut Ink Details (a bunch of cool little other ways to use the ink).
It'll take me a few weeks to put this one together, like this one did, because there's lots of little stuff to share, so please bear with me!
Thanks for peeking, and have fun! :)