Weekend with the Cochineals

28 thoughts on “Weekend with the Cochineals”

  1. I am wondering if perhaps you are my son in disguise…he speaks the way you write.excellently according to his mother..oh wait. that would be me! okay, so you write excellently. And did you ever wonder who the first person was to say “I think I’ll crunch up these bugs and dye wool with them?”

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      1. No, thanks! I don’t even kill spiders. Live and let live, I guess 😊

        Acid dyes don’t really have much of a smell (unless you use vinegar instead of citric acid) and the colour range is amazing. Love it!

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  2. That red! It got stuck in my head, and since I was planning a trip to the most local dye shop I could find (still halfway across the country), I added the cochineals to my list as well as tartaric acid. I only ever attempted dyeing cochineals with alum only and that gives a purple/pink/whatever but not red. I had almost sworn that I wouldn’t need cochineals for anything, but now I definitely want to try your recipe.

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      1. I haven’t yet, I have theoretical knowledge of this plant. It dyes a bit like indigo would, meaning that you’ll have a yellow-green dye bath that’ll react to oxygen (I’m thinking it would be best to dye in something you can close off, like the jar I used for dyeing indigo). I’m not sure about the mordants to use to be honest. Sounds exciting though 😀

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      2. I found a book in my mother’s collection of questionable dye-recipes, that talks about woad, but it seems like the “soda ash” I used for indigo would be good for woad as well, but they don’t talk about glucose or fructose. The difference is though that they use the fresh plant in this recipe. I think the recipe will differ whether the plant is fresh, dried or in powder form. It also seems like in the old days they used urine to start the reduction, like with indigo (I would like to try that some day, not sure about how my neighbors will appreciate the smell of that experiment…). They talk about low temperatures for dyeing (50°C). So I would definitely do this “au bain marie”.
        Important is that the wool will only show its color after exposure to oxygen, so you have to leave it out for a bit to find out whether the color is what you would like it to be.

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