Rose Petals and Walnut Ink


Wild rose bushes with spent petals
Wild rose bushes with spent petals

When you are a city dweller, and you live in an apartment or town home or condo, you are somewhat limited in what–and how much–you can grow.  And what you can accomplish is all on a smaller scale than if you had a nice-sized garden.

So when I read that you can save wild rose petals–I have three bushes in front of my town home–and preserve them for use in cosmetics and jams, I got very excited. This morning, before the dew was gone, I gathered wild rose petals and stuffed them in a clean recycled jar. You are advised NOT to totally strip the bushes, leaving some petals for the bees.

While I could be making rose hip jam or rose water, I’ve decided to use the petals for “rose attar” or infused rose oil. The decision: whether to use organic safflower oil or my costly extra virgin olive oil. I’ve decided to use equal amounts of both oils. Pressing the rose petals tightly in the jar, I pour a mix of oil over the petals, leaving an inch of space at the top so the rose petals have room to expand. Tightly capped, I will steep the petals for about two weeks. I look forward to using the rose petal oil as a skin balm.

In the meantime, I have been steeping exhaust liquid from black walnut IMG_2203husk dyeing, and the mostly evaporated liquid is getting close to becoming walnut ink.  Walnut ink was used at one time by scribes for writing on parchment, way back in the day, before ball point pens. Today, walnut ink is used by artists to create beautiful impressions on paper and canvas. You may be surprised to learn that both Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt used walnut ink in their paints. My tiny bit of walnut liquid will not yield much ink, but just enough for me to practice on handmade paper and recapture a bit of history.

Rose petals and infusion oils
Rose petals and infusion oilsStay tuned!

If you would like to learn more about the history of black walnuts and their many uses–or about wild roses and their usage in cosmetics, medicine and food–I have provided links.

Rose petals stuffed in a jar
Rose petals stuffed in a jarI have provided the links below.
Rose petals and infusion oils
Rose petals and infusion oils

How to Eat a Wild Rose: Roses for food and medicine


Author: luvswool and dyestuff

Natural dyer. Chemist. Chicagoan. Felter. Weaver. Embroiderer.

2 thoughts on “Rose Petals and Walnut Ink”

  1. Great information! I can only imagine the lovely scent and feel of the rose balm. I look forward to seeing the results of your walnut ink experiment.


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