Cochineal is a natural dye substance that comes from the crushed bodies of insects, Dactylopius coccus, found on prickly pear cacti. Cochineal can be used with or without mordants and produces reds, pinks and purples.
Weigh out the amount of cochineal that you need.
Crush and grind the cochineal into a fine powder. (You can use an old coffee grinder.)
Place the ground cochineal into a small glass jar and cover with water.
Add tartaric acid to the cochineal/water mixture to release more of the colour.
Let the cochineal mixture sit overnight.
The following day, fill a dyepot with hot water, sufficient to cover the fibre completely.
Bring the water to a boil and add the cochineal mixture.
Boil for 15 minutes, and skim off the froth and cochineal that has risen to the surface.
The cochineal can be dried and reused.
Add the clean, wet fibre or yarn to the dyebath.
Let the dyebath simmer for 35 – 40 minutes.
Remove the fibre/yarn, rinse in warm water and dry.
Wool dyed with Cochineal
Peruvian Women Demonstrate Cochineal Dyeing – You Tube
Natural Dye Recipes
Where to Buy Cochineal
A wholesale supplier of cochineal.
Natural Dye Books
Wild Color, Revised and Updated Edition: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes
This comprehensive book outlines all the necessary equipment, how to select fibers and plant parts, choose the right methods for mordanting and dyeing, test color modifiers and the fastness of dyed colors, and obtain a range of gorgeous colors from every plant, from alter to woad, shown in more than 250 swatches.
UK: Wild Color
Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
Using dyes of the leaves, roots, and flowers to color your cloth and yarn can be an amazing journey into botanical alchemy. In Eco Colour, artistic dyer and colorist India Flint teaches you how to cull and use this gentle and ecologically sustainable alternative to synthetic dyes.
UK: Eco Colour