Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pictures of making a button and dyeing with walnut hulls!

So I finally wrestled Picasa to the ground.  I don't know why it is so hard for me to use.  Nothing is intuitive on it.  Every thing I want to do has some name or process that doesn't make sense to me.  But the good news is: here are pictures!

Making a button from recycled copper from scratch:

These are just some left over bits of copper.  Using the hardy hole in the anvil and the rounded side of the ball-peen hammer, I start forming the top of the button.  It's fairly thin copper, so I don't make it too deep.  I always wear gloves, I find that when I hammer myself instead of the copper, it hurts less.  

Forming the button
 Next I use this cool gadget that punches holes in metal.  I know it has some specific name, but I just call it the Metal Punch.
Metal punch out the holes
 At this point, I cut the button top out.  I could have done that later in the process which has it's advantages, but I wanted to see it more button-y sooner.
Cut out the top of the button
 The bottom plate has holes punched in it that should hopefully match the holes in the top.  That is a bit of a tough task, but I've figured out a way to do it that seems to be working well.  It took a couple of hours of experimenting!

The bottom plate punched with holes
Then using tubing that just slips into the holes (here is where you see how well you lined up the holes top and bottom!) I cut the tubing just a tiny bit longer than the button is tall with a jeweler's saw.
Cut copper tube just a bit longer than the button is thick 
The tool is homemade and is used to widen the tube.  It's tricky as the tube has to flare out on both sides and not fall out.  I work gently and flip it over often.
Flare the tube out 

Hollow rivets!
 These are called "hollow rivets".  This is how the button is sewn onto the sweater, hat, etc.  Once the tube is flared out, then I carefully roll/flatten it on both sides.  It's pretty cool to do.  It's always magic to me.
Almost a button
 I then cut the extra bottom plate off.  If I hadn't of cut the button top off earlier, I'd be cutting 2 thickness of copper sheet.  Not fun.
A button, it's about the size of a quarter
 I should have put a coin there for reference.  But here is the button!  I made about a dozen of them, mostly bigger and with some cool surface decoration/texture this week.  I can hardly wait to sell these!  It's been a blast making them!  I have so many ideas for other things to do.

 Meanwhile back in the kitchen, I'm dyeing with walnut hulls!
Walnuts in the paint strainer bag
 I love paint strainer bags!  I get them at the local paint store.  I like the ones that have elastic on the top.  I put the bag in my pot, fill it with water, add my dyestuffs and simmer.  When the dye is ready, I just pull out the bag and let it drain into a bucket to get every last drop of color.  Then I can just dump out the used dye stuff.  The mesh is fine enough that there is very little vegetable matter in the dye to get in the fiber.
Worsted and fingering
 These skeins above have had 2 dips in the walnut dye.  I simmer then for at least a couple of hours, then I let the pot sit overnight before I take the fiber out.  A lot of color still washes out, but I am getting a good brown without any additional mordant.

I sure like these browns.  Pretty!

We are opening up our strawbale studio for tours this weekend!  The Loveland Art Studio Tour is on Saturday and Sunday, Oct 15 & 16.  I put up the link to the website a couple of posts ago if you want more information.

I'm looking forward to it!  Tomorrow I'm going to be making food for our visitors - cookies, hummus, and other yums.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

That's really fascinating. I'm about to try some walnut husk dyeing, and am reading everything I can find.

Spike said...

Thanks! I've learned a lot more since this blog. I need to get back to writing and share! (Had a car accident end of June, focused on getting better now.)

One big thing is don't hurry to take your skeins out of the dye. I got a solid lovely brown with 3 weeks in the pot, cold. It smelled horrible but made lovely colors. Put the pot outside with a lid on it or in a bucket!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I had great success with store bought walnut hills, and just today gathered up several bags of fallen California Black Walnuts. We'll see what happens next...

Sheron Buchele Rowland said...

Great! Good to hear you are still about it!

Ravelry has several natural dyeing groups you can join. Just search for "Walnut" and you'll find all sorts of advice and commentary!

I've just started a new cold pot outside and dumped a number of silk scarves in for a 3 week bath.