dramatic cochineal

One of THE easiest dyes to use! Yes, it’s expensive, but not with Cost of Wear, known in the dye biz as WOF, the measurement used to calculate how much dyestuff to fabric. Yes, it’s dead bugs, so if your sensitivities include no “animal” products, don’t use it. (And don’t lecture me either.)

Basically, the bugs are scraped off cacti, dried, sold whole, and ground down to a powder with a mortar and pestle for use, cooked, and decanted 3 or 4 times, and pre-mordanted fibres are thrown into the resulting dye bath. Mordants and modifiers can shift the colours from oranges, to fuschias and reds to deepest purples with every flame colour in between. Very versatile but because of these colour variations, in use after, Ph neutral care is important, though wash and lightfastness are excellent.

Tip o’ the Day: do not be making grape jelly at the same  time: the colour is the same 🙂

Since my practice is to leave things in dyebaths at least overnight, you won’t see the results just yet 🙂 And BEST practice with all natural dyes, is to let the fibres dry, then let “em “cure” for at least a week before rinsing any excess out, so you’re still not going to see them until the 13th earliest. I’m gonna be biting my nails in anticipation.


I intend to do cloth as well as threads, testing all the colour permutations possible, with mordants and modifiers. And overdyes as well–indigo yields another purple over top, and osage would warm it beautifully also, i’m sure.

I threw some of the wool thread in the 2nd extraction logwood bath–yum.

However, i know logwood is not as lightfast as other dyes, so this will be overdyed, or post-mordanted with some iron, which apparently will help with that factor.



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