Two Legged Rocker, Black Walnut
The above is an example of furniture made from the "King" of American cabinet woods, Black Walnut. The wood carves beautifully, finishes very well, and has a lovely , warm color. Working it can , however, stain the hands, and in fact strong dyes have been extracted from walnuts and their cousin, Butternut. Butternut was a very common dye in antebellum America, that during the Civil War, enough of the Confederacy's uniforms were dyed with butternut dye, that the troops became known as "Butternuts". Walnut ranges from a milk chocolate to a dark chocolate, and will have a purple hue in air dried lumber, as opposed to kiln dried lumber.
A corner of the studio, with some miscellaneous wood; birds eye maple, some knotty pine, some oak, some mahogany from a dismantled piece of furniture, and some walnut planks, and a walnut frame eventually to be a mirror.
In earlier times, the walnut was prized for the nuts, while the wood was a utilitarian material; used for fence rails, rail road ties, and I've seen a house in east-central Illinois, that was all framed in walnut. The nuts are still collected, prized for their rich, and distinctive flavor, though it is a difficult process. There are tools, nineteenth c., hand cranked, for the removal of the hull from the nut, but we moderns seldom want to work that hard.
A picture of a fresh nut in it's husk, one that has the husk mostly rotted off, and the nut after being ravaged by squirrels. This has been a good year for the two walnuts in my back yard; the "thump-thump---thump,thump,thump" of nuts smacking on the studio roof has been going on for a few weeks, followed by the skittering sound of the industrious squirrels, who are busy chewing off the hulls and burying the nuts.
Top, the big walnut, and bottom, an example of the "trashed" state of my backyard. It is, in fact dangerous to walk in our backyard now, as it is very easy to twist an ankle from stepping on a walnut, and if the hull is getting soft, you can slip. And the leaves and hulls are toxic to other plants, and kill many other plants in the back yard. Usually the squirrels do a pretty good job of keeping them under control, but this year, a big crop, and then there are some little Pine squirrels running around, and I am told they are very aggressive with the bigger gray and fox squirrels.
I'm tolerant of the walnut mess, because I have an appreciation for the wood, the nuts, and their interaction with the history of our country, though I do not avail myself of the nuts at my feet. It's a time factor.