Last week my long-time friend, Irene (owner of Cotton Clouds) visited with new friend, Rocio. Rocio is an expert natural dyer and she showed the rest of us how to dye with cochineal. We started in the theater (aka garage) to watch a PowerPoint presentation about cochineal.Cochineal is an insect that lives on a particular species of cactus. It is harvested and dried.The red color becomes obvious after the dried insects are ground.
These are some of the scarves that Rocio has dyed.
Dyeing with cochineal is a multi-step process and those steps differ depending on whether you are dyeing protein fiber (wool, silk) or cellulose fiber (cotton). Participants were able to dye both.
Rocio showed us how to use varying concentrations of mordant solutions to create different shades of color. From two “mother” solutions, one with iron and one with alum, we ended up with nine different concentrations.
Since I was the hostess I didn’t have time to dye scarves but I did make a sample using the different mordant concentrations. Rocio says that if I wash this in a wheat bran solution the gray areas will turn white. I need to try that.Happy dyers at the end of the day. Oh..dogs were there too. Look at Rusty’s blog for photos.