Cochineal

Cochineal

Cochineal

£3.00

When the Spanish arriving in South Amercia  and saw the native people producing a rich range of reds and purples, they could hardly believe their eyes as the reds and purples they saw had been both rare and expensive in Europe.  They regarded the cochineal beetle as a gift from God not realising that the native people had been cultivating it for 1000's of years. The Spanish imported vast quantities of  cochineal into Europe the income from which rivalled silver as a source of wealth  as cochineal was both very much cheaper than the native red insect dye kermes and more potent a dye.

 The colours from cochineal are rich and warm; pinks, reds, purples or grey. The colours  vary depending on both mordant  and pH (that is whether acid or alkali is added such as  acetic acid or sodium carbonate ( washing soda) or ammonia).

For more information read Colours of the Earth by Helen Melvin available  from this website

10g will dye 50g of fibres a deep pinky red colour on an alum mordant, but dont forget to add cream of tatar as cochineal only fixes well  in an acidic environment or do as the pervuvian do and add a cut up lime to the bath instead  and successive exhaust baths give paler and paler pinks till the dye is exhausted.