Friday, December 15, 2006

Cochineal Crimson Recipe

There are a lot of variations for using this particular dye stuff. I just picked the simplest.

Cochineal Basic Recipe:

  1. You will first need to mordant your dye material with first tannin (Tara Powder) and then twice with Alum to get the Crimson Color - letting the material dry between mordant sessions at least a day or two; (ok, I'm not patient, I just mordanted and let it dry 1 day between sessions);

  2. The dye pot is prepared at room temperature with 2 gals of water;

  3. Add 1 cup of salt and 1 to 2 tbs of water softener if necessary;

  4. ADD 1/4 cup of the Cochineal dye stuff - Powdered Cochineal; now you may find you want a darker color in which case you would add more dye stuff - I also purchased the whole Cochineal and then used my little coffee grinder to get it into powdered form - worked really well and I got a really nice powder;

  5. Add your mordanted coil of cane;

  6. Bring the entire dye pot to 160 degrees - I brought it to a simmer and then turned it down, I'm not sure what the temperature was; Leave it at this temperature until the color develops, again I left mine at this heat level for about 2 hours - mine is a medium color in the dye pot, so I'm going to leave it in the dye solution again over night to see if it will get darker in color. Nope the color does not get darker and a black residue seems to form when it cools, so taking it out of the dye pot when you remove it from the heat appears to be best. You could probably leave the cane in the dye for longer than 2 hours if it has not reached the color to want by then, however, keep it at a hot temperature.

Now this dye stuff will produce a color anywhere from Scarlet Red to Purple; if the dye stuff gets wet before use, it will only produce purples. Other recipes call for adding at various times, oxalic acid, stannous chloride, stannic chloride for a more scarlet color. Other recipes call for oxalic acid, cream of tartar and tin spirits, stannous chloride and black oak bark. I won't go into how the *spirits* are made, but I suspect you'd need to live in the country with lots of cows around.

If you'd like to try these other recipes you'll need the book: The Art and Craft of Natural Dyeing, Traditional Recipes for Modern Use, by J.N. Liles of the three books I got this one seems to have much better directions in it for the home user. He gives the recipes for cotton and wool as well as silk. He still uses degrees for heat and ozs etc for amounts, so I'm guessing a lot of time on the amounts here, however, he also gives tbs or tsp measurements for smaller amounts. He also gives you a good many variations of materials i.e. if you don't have tannin you can use say 2 oz of Tara Powder, he also tells you where you can purchase some of the other items he uses in his recipes. And he has a number of variations to all his recipes from the simplest to the most complex. His book is available at Amazon or any other online book seller as well.

The photo above was taken just after removing the cane from the dye pot. This seemed to lighten even after leaving it in the dye pot over night, so it might be that you would get a brighter color if you removed it after the dye solution begins to cool or after removing it from the heat. There seems to be a black residue that forms in this dye if it gets cool, so dyeing and removing the cane after a couple of hours appears to work better than if you leave it over night.

I have also added some honeysuckle to the dye pot to see what it will do. The top photo is the Cochineal after it has dryed.

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