Cochineal can be used with or without mordants and produces reds, pinks and purples. Cochineal is a natural dye substance that comes from the crushed bodies of insects, Dactylopius coccus, found on prickly pear cacti.
- 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 fiber or yarn, rinse in warm water and dry.
- Cochineal with no mordant gives pinks/magenta.
- Cochineal with tin mordant yields reds/oranges.
- An ammonia afterbath will result in purples.
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