I noticed the black walnut leavings in my yard. The expletive-deleted squirrels who live in the maples love black walnuts and are able, unlike most creatures, to mine the nutritious innards from the black walnuts. The leavings showed high contrast between the black and dark colors in the crevices and the lighter brown in the raised shell. This would make a pretty bead. I would need to abrade the surface with something other than squirrel teeth.
I used a large “mill” file for grinding. You also see in the picture a toothbrush shaped wire brush and a glove. The black walnuts on the left are as they were in my storage bag. A digression...
Black walnuts grow in the deciduouus woodlands of eastern north America among other places. The nut kernel is among the tastiest and most fragrant of nuts, but like the crab, the great spirit knew that such a tasty morsel needed to be defended in a place dificult to compromise, lest we mere taste driven mortals devote ourselves to it too assiduously. In other words, we would think of black walnuts as nature's fast food-fat food supply depot of choice and gorge ourselves beyond what is righr, proper and healthy on these delicious morsels.
Hidden, therefore, in this extremely difficult shell, is the black walnut, alomost impossible to extract except in small pieces and at great expense of time and energy. It is worth it. I have broken cutting boards, hammers and tables gettig at the nut meat and will again. After gathering them in the fall, you should take off the outer hull and keep them in your storage bag for work with hammer, stone and picks. That is where mine were, in the storage bag. The expletive deleted squirrels found my storage bag and made off with most of them. Darn. Here, the digression ends.
Wearing the leather glove, to avoide tearing my hand with the file, I milled the exterior of the black walnuts, grinding away around the entire surface to expose the lighter brown shell and leave the crevices dark. They look pretty good I think - the ones on the right have already been milled. After milling one or two nuts, clean your file with the wire brush. The accumulated dust compacts in the file's depths, making it less and less effective a tool. If you are sensitive to dust, wear a dust filter, this is a dusty operation.
No bead is complete without it has a hole in it. so the next step is putting a hole in the black walnut. The photo shows that I used the hand drill, a heavier duty instrument than my dremel tool. I used a one eighth inch bit, larger than I usually use for a project which will utilize hemp beading line but for these beads, the line will have to be pushed through a much larger bead and a much longer bead than is usual in my projects.
The articulating vise is very helpful but a table mounted fixed vise would probably do as well. Each walnut has a pointy (er) side and a more rounded side. I tried to drill from the rounded end, straight through the middle to the point. I got it sometimes, sometimes I missed.
The shell is very very hard. after drilling 20 beads, my drill bit was heat blackened and I doubt it will be useful in the future. Once past the first woody section, you drill through the nut meat. The heat of the bit cooks it (you will tell with your nose). The second woody bit seems to go easier. As with drilling cowrie shells (see other projects) it seemed to make sense to do a big batch of walnut beads all at once.