I was able to order some cochineal from a farm in Oaxaca a couple of months ago, and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to use it. Well, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t make the time for it, so in the middle of getting ready for the Wool Festival last weekend, I was also dyeing silk fabric at the same time I was labeling and pricing wool. It got a little crazy here at home, but I just couldn’t wait any longer for the perfect moment to arrive. In my hurry, I also underestimated the dye’s ability to stain almost anything, that I bypassed washing my dye pot thoroughly that I previously used with cochineal last winter and my mordanted fabric got a pinkish color. I kind of like it, but it definitely will change the outcome of my final colors.
I also been soaking my Osage Orange in vodka. Even though I soaked it for a few months, I think I prefer this method, because it saves a lot on energy, time and the brew is ready any time I’m prepared to proceed with my dyeing.
There is my Cochineal to the left and my Osage Orange soaking to the right. This is getting exciting…
The silk gets one shade lighter after it gets dry.
I didn’t plan to have these orchids blooming at the same time…
I’m getting ready for the Second Annual Farm to Home Wool Festival at Valley Ford hosted by Ariana and Casey. Last year we had a blast. We got lot’s of visitors, the weather was great, and the food was to die for. This year they will have demonstrations on shearing, weaving, spinning, music and more. This is a great family friendly event and the driving to get there is really nice.
I will be having a booth selling my hand dyed fibers and such along with other vendors offering their wares.
This is a FREE EVENT!
- Valley Ford Wool Mill
14390 Highway 1, Valley Ford, CA 94972 United States
- + Google Map
Once in a while I like to challenge myself and see how close I get to matching certain colors that spur my inspiration. Back in November of last year, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about the Strongest Storm in the World to Approach Alaska, reported by Accuweather. I got immediately fixated by the graphics and how the colors form a vortex with swirls that change from chartreuse to lilac, to a pale pink. A blend of Bamboo and Merino would be perfect to match the white swirls, since the Bamboo does not take the dyes that work on protein fibers.
And the matching results:
That was pretty fun.
Red has been a valued colour in so many cultures. It carries importance since it has been used to symbolize power and gave status only to those that could afford to wear it. Since ancient times it has always been some sort of a quest to find a natural source that yields such colour. Ochers, Iron Oxides and Cinnabar were some of the pigments used to get reds, but technically they are not considered dyes since they don’t chemically bond to the textile. Generally speaking, dyes comes from an organic source, like plants and insects and only a handful of them yield a deep red colour. Madder, Shellfish Purple, Lac and Kermes are some of the examples of those natural dyes used and traded throughout ancient history. In Mexico a scale insect called nocheztli (tuna’s blood) that fed from a cactus, was cultivated in order to get a red dye. Eventually the name was changed to Cochinilla and entire families and countries built businesses and fortunes around it. Their sources and recipes were seriously considered trade secrets and those who gave away valuable information were severely punished with the risk of losing their lives if those secrets were revealed.
“The finest and best dye drug in the world.” – Amy Butler
Great books to read:
Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield