Solace in Walnuts

Yep, it has been a rough year. Then, this box of paired walnuts arrived.

I’ve found working with walnuts to be very relaxing. Surprisingly so. Oh, how I’ve needed a relaxing, pleasing project. Thus: Solace in Walnuts. I still love making my strawberries. Don’t worry. Those aren’t going away. Walnuts give an extra level of fiddliness, which you know I love.

The area squirrels will tell you walnuts are wonderful. The Victorians agreed!

Between originals and crafty directions, there were oodles of adorable things made with walnuts…. pin cushions…. baskets… thimble holders… miniature purses…. doll boxes…

Here are just a few pieces I’ve found inspiring:


I find the pin cushions that use a pair of shells pleasing to make because I basically recreate the guts of the nut out of fabric. Sure, it would be possible to make a simple velvet covered bag and squish it into the shell. But, I find creating a shape that mimics the interior of each nut gives a nicer shape and better pin cushion.

The thimble holders that look like little purses are what I am currently exploring. Some of the originals show little holes for the ribbons, both as the handles and as the hinges. Period directions call for making these holes using a long sharp needle heated red hot in candle light. I am going to give this technique a try. But, I am also going to try my dremel’s drill.

Walnut pin cushions will be part of this weekend’s Preparing for Christmas while at GCVM.


A couple nineteenth century directions for walnut crafts:1


Children’s Fancy Work, 1882

Dainty little pincushions and thimble-case can be made out of walnut-shells. Scrape the inside of the shell  till quite smooth, then stuff a little bag of some bright-coloured materials with wadding, making it as nearly as possible the shape of the shell; sew to this a handle—a bit of narrow capwire, covered, answers for the purpose—then drop a little liquid gum into the bottom of the shell and press in the cushion. This can be supplies with a pedestal in the following way: – Take two walnut-shells and pierce a couple holes in the centre  of each (A red-hot iron meat-skewer or knitting-needle will do this beautifully.) Now place the shells together against each other, and tie them together with a string or fix them with wire. In the upper half the cushion is placed; the lower forms the stand. For an emery cushion take two halves of a walnut-shell and having scraped the inside, brush over the outside with copal varnish. In both halves make narrow slits in the middle of the sides. Fill a little coloured silk bag with emery-powder and gum it into one half of the shell. Then join both halves of the shell together by means of a ribbon the slits in one side, and tied in a bow on the outside. Through the openings on the other side draw another piece of ribbon six inches long. This serves to open and close the walnut. A thimble-case is easily made of one half of a shell lined with pink wool stuck on with gum, then inclosed [sic] in a tiny bag of its own shape, but large enough to admit being drawn closely over the opening with a running cord.


I thought you might like a couple more later Victorian Walnut crafts.


Children’s Fancy Work, 1882

Toys made from walnut-shells will please the little ones, and the making of them prove no less enticing.


….. Nos 54 and 55. These two illustrations show a pretty little toy, the “Surprise” Basket, closed and open. Two exactly– fitting halves of a walnut-shell are scraped clean and lined with pink or silver paper. Holes should be carefully drilled all the way around in both shells, and then a frill of narrow lace sew round each for the outside and round the inside of the lower one. This is effected by putting the needle through the holes. The edges are then bound with pale blue silk so put on that the stitches do not show. In the lower half of the shell is a tiny wax or china doll with a tiny quilted covering over it. In the upper shell dolly’s tiny wardrobe is packed. The shell is closed by means of pale blue ribbon, a loop and end being sewn to each half.




Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 7:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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