Staining

Tips and Tricks

  • From Sosse Baker: Just have to pass this along to anybody who works with reed. I have been using a lot of smoked reed but I dye it. Just put it in hot hot water and watch it run. Add the dye to that smoky colored water and see what happens. I added rit mauve. Voila, the most beautiful eggplant color is the result. I can't wait to weave it into a basket. (8/18/01)

  • A tip about stain from Mary Skillings: I am lucky enough to live in a town with Black walnut trees, even luckier that I don't have one in my own yard. Just a few doors down the street and from many of my students yards I can gather all the black walnuts I want. Last fall after gathering I let the walnuts dry in my garage, managed to keep the squirrels out of them, but then I think my cats helped in that regard. Anyway, when it came time for me to make some stain I had a mesh bag left over from a 4lb. orange purchase, I filled the bag with the dried hulls, tied it shut with a cable tie and laid it in a rubbermaid bin. I covered it with the hottest water I could get out of my laundry sink and let it sit. The stain "brewed" quickly. I removed the bag of walnuts, strained the stain into my staining bin and repeated the process. The walnut hulls were saturated of course after the first soaking so with a gloved hand I gently squeezed them before the second soak. many of them crumbled. All but a tiny amount of the crumbly mess and the walnuts remain contained in the mesh bag. The crushing yielded more color the second time around and I have done a third soak with several bags and still gotten a nice color. One batch had some green and gray mold on the walnuts when I started, I left it there and had a very nice blacker - brown stain develop. I've had no trouble with the stain itself molding or developing a really offensive smell. I keep my "dunking Bin" covered when not in use. I will occasionally have to restrain to clear a thin film that develops if the stain is unused for a while. The mesh bag full of used walnut gunk can easily be discarded when it no longer gives color. One 4 lb bag make a LOT of stain. I let it dry out a little so it's not so heavy for the trash man!(5/8/00)

  • From Pat Maier: I make my own stain. I use pecan skins, black walnut skins, sweetgum burrs and others. My favorite is sweetgum burrs. I put skins or burrs in a 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid and pour enough non sudsing amonia to cover skins. I leave it for two -ten days. I strain off the stain into the amonia jugs. As I need it I put it in a spray bottle and dilute it to the shade I want with water. I have added linseed oil to a small amount of stain just before I plan to use it. Do not make this up ahead.
    When I spray the basket I do it outside and let the basket sit out in an open air place until the amonia odor evaporates, usually a couple of hours or less. I may spray with liquid gold if I have not added the linseed oil to misture. That gives better finish than just the stain which is a little dry by itself. I have made chewing tobacco stain, tea and coffee stain, chestnut, pecan, black walnut and sweetgum, with the sweetgum burrs being my most favorite. It is a really mellow shade. I keep all shades of stain made up and in spray bottles and do not have a problem with mold, probably because I use amonia to leach out the color. It works very fast and makes much more stain from same amount of skins as does the hot water method. I also have a handle and rim oil that I use. It is 3 parts turpentine to 2 parts boiled linseed oil. I apply it after sanding the handles or rims. (9/14/00)

  • I got a great tip from a cabinetmaker friend. If you have a stain color that you want to spray on a basket and it isnít available in spray form, there is a little aerosol sprayer can you can use to spray any stain mixture. It has a 6 oz. glass bottle with an aerosol spray canister attached to the lid. Mix the stain in the bottle, insert the lid that has a tube down into the jar and use the spray head on the top of the canister. It works just like a spray can! The brand name is Preval. I got mine at an auto paint store for only $4.99. One aerosol canister will spray 16 oz. of liquid and then is replaceable for a couple dollars.

    Depending on how dark you want the stain, you can mix linseed oil and mineral spirits with it and spray the basket. One ounce of stain, a half ounce of mineral spirits, and a half ounce of linseed oil pretty well covered a big step basket for me if that gives you some idea of how much to mix. When done, spray a little mineral spirits, aka paint thinner, through the nozzle until it comes out clear. (7/23/00)

    Patti Hawkins offers this explanation of "gray wash":
    A weak solution of plain ole rit dye does a GREAT wash on a basket. I do it with COLD dye, not too strong (test it first). I often use a bit of leftover dye that's sitting around cold, add some water to it, and voila! A "wash!" (Do test for color first on a scrap) I slosh the basket around in it or use a paper cup to pour it over the basket.

    You can do it on the completed basket, no matter what colors you have put in the basket, as long as they aren't too pastel. Gray and taupe are both great. Lots of other colors work, too. Just sorta tones everything down and camouflages less than perfect reed. Since I always do color and plenty of twill design, I don't want that covered up by dark stain. (7/23/00)


    From Tony Stubblefield: I have been a basket maker for over 12 years and I worked with walnut hull dye only once to decide it was too much of a mess. I have been using tea for years and am extremely happy with the results I get. I will use tea bags (the extra large ones are the easiest) and boil them for 15 or 20 minutes. This isn't an exact science, I just use about 5 regular size tea bags (cheap generic brands are fine) to about 4 cups of water and let it boil down to about 2 cups of liquid. I can save the left over in a glass jar in the refrigerator and reheat it in the microwave. I then use a brush to apply the stain as I do this at my kitchen table and would have it everywhere if I used a spray bottle. You will get a very natural color to your baskets in this way. I have several oak baskets that have attained the same hues with age. You can also use instant tea (or coffee for a slightly more brown color) as well. For the instant tea method I usually use about 1/8 cup of tea to 1 cup water. This is usually enough to do 1 10 x 12 inch market basket. If I am staining a number of baskets I will add more water to my mixture for each basket so they all are a slightly different color. I hate going into a craft booth and seeing 50 baskets all the exact same color. You can see two reed basket stained this way on my website. (11/22/97)

    From Ann Ridgeway: Pour boiling water over walnuts, hulls and all. Let sit overnight. Throw in some vinegar, which smells better than ammonia and is used in preserving food, so it must do something good. I pour mine through a coffee filter to remove any crud and just ignore any mold.

    From Cathy Bartos: When staining my baskets I used instant tea. I use one part tea to one part water. I brush it on and it looks very nice. Of course if you want it darker you can use more tea and if you want it lighter you can use less tea. It also makes them smell nice!

    From Cynthia Stuck: The walnut hull stain I made a couple of weeks ago by letting the whole hulls stand in jars looks good but has begun to show some mold. What can I do to eliminate this from my dye and to prevent it from happening next time
    Answers:

  • From Billie A. Dorris: Cynthia , I have had the same batch of stain for over 10 years, I just add to it every so often. Don't know what you can do about the mold but am not sure it really matters. Just stir thru it before you want to use it. The stain is usulally pretty gross most of the time anyway. I do know some people add ammonia but think that is just the help with the odor.
  • From Kristine Mueller: When I make walnut stain from walnut hulls I soak the hulls for the few weeks then use cheese cloth to strain off any "gunk". I then add a quart bottle of ammonia to the mixture. It keeps the mold from forming and does not seem to affect the staining power. I make my stain in a Rubbermaid 10 gal. container. I would guesstimate that it is 1/2 to 3/4 full when I dump in a quart of ammonia. ammonia. I have had the same stain for 2 years (it is getting low now) and it is not moldy. The smell when the mixture is fresh makes your eyes water but decreases as it ages.
  • From Lora L. Khoury: I don't think you can eliminate the mold in your stain, you just need to skim it off the top. The mold is created by little hairs off your basket, or really any natural material that gets in the stain. It happens with the water based stain you buy as well. With black walnut stain, you should regularly skim the top and add water as it thickens.


    From Lois Keener: If walnut hulls are not available, mix 1 cup mineral spirits and a 4 inch "squeeze" of burnt umber artist oil paint (the kind that comes in tubes). Mix well and brush or spray on baskets. The smell might be strong for a day or two, but this mix will give a great walnut-looking finish. Add more paint or more mineral spirits to make it as dark or light as you prefer. Make sure your tube reads OIL and not acrylic. Both paints come in similar tubes and acrylic just doesn't mix with the mineral spirits.

    From Donna Weber: Black walnut hulls are only available in the late fall in our area so I have had to find alternative staining methods that produce comparable results.

    I use a mixture of oil-based stain, such as MinWax, and boiled linseed oil. The ratio is usually about 2:1 stain/linseed oil, but I mix them together until I get the desired shade. I've used stain colors such as Early American, Golden Oak and Special Walnut with great results. Using the boiled linseed oil with the stain really gives the basket a nice finish and it leaves a smooth, protective coating. It does not have that "dried out" look that you get with the walnut hull stain, and I think it looks beautiful! I apply the stain/linseed oil mixture with a foam brush so I am able to get really good coverage. Remember to wipe the stain mixture off soon after applying it to the basket so that it doesn't penetrate too much, especially on the dyed reed areas which will darken. I apply the stain to the bottom of the basket then wipe it off. Then apply the stain to one side of the basket, up to the dyed reed area, wipe it off, then apply to the dyed reed area, wipe it off, and continue in this manner. When staining a small basket, such as a candle basket, I stain the OUTSIDE of the basket first rather than the inside, so most of the stain penetrates through and you only need to do touch-up staining to the inside of the basket which is sometimes more difficult to get into because of the small opening.

    From Juanita Jungck: I put my stain in spray bottles like the ones you use to mist plants. Some stains require thinning so they will spray, but this does not effect the color. With the spray bottle, the stain goes on more quickly, is not as heavy, covers a larger area, and there is less waste than with brushing. I label the bottles with the colors they contain. Also, mixing colors of stain is easier with the bottles. If a thin coat of dried stain covers the nozzle, I just remove it. I spray the baskets in a plastic tub with a flat rack inside. If there is excess stain, it can be poured back into the bottle or peeled off the tub when it dries.

    From Debra VanBriesen: If using an oil base stain such as Minwax, I mix 1 part color, 2 parts clear, and 2 parts mineral spirits. The 3:1 ratio of stain to spirits thins the stain enough to penetrate well yet not look "dry." The clear helps lighten the color enough to let the color shine through. I especially like Early American and Special Walnut.

    From Charlotte Erhardt: I use one part Minwax wood stain to two parts mineral spirits. Mix in a jar and brush onto the baskets. Let air dry. If the color is too light or dark, just add more or less mineral spirits. Let me know if you have questions.

    From Donna Weber: I use a mixture of oil-based stain, such as MinWax, and boiled linseed oil. The ratio is usually about 2:1 stain/linseed oil, but I mix them together until I get the desired shade. I've used stain colors such as Early American, Golde n Oak and Special Walnut with great results. Using the boiled linseed oil with the stain really gives the basket a nice finish and it leaves a smooth, protective coating. It does not have that "dried out" look that you get with the walnut hull stain, and I think it looks beautiful! I apply the stain/linseed oil mixture with a foam brush so I am able to get really good coverage. Remember to wipe the stain mixture off soon after a pplying it to the basket so that it doesn't penetrate too much, especially on the dyed reed areas which will darken. I apply the stain to the bottom of the basket then wipe it off. Then apply the stain to one side of the basket, up to the dyed reed area, wipe it off, then apply to the dyed reed area, wipe it off, and continue in this manner. When staining a small basket, such as a candle basket, I stain the OUTSIDE of the bas ket first rather than the inside, so most of the stain penetrates through and you only need to do touch-up staining to the inside of the basket which is sometimes more difficult to get into because of the small opening.

    From Linda Justice: I like the look of Deft brand Step Saver. It is a stain and a finish in one. It goes much farther than Minwax which is also a favorite.

    From Crystal Drenner: I have purchased carmel/walnut dye or extract. They come in 3 oz. containers. I mix or dilute to the color desired. I have also used White Lightening, to white wash baskets. All of this is water based. I spray all my baskets with a gloss spray.



    Would love to hear other people's suggestions.
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