Ok, this is a little nuts as far as prep time goes… well over six hours, so far…

Here’s the materials list:

1- Mordanted in Alum, we have: Two 11″ x 11″ piece of cotton; One 11″ x 22″ piece of cotton; One 10″ x 40″ piece of cotton; One 16″ x 9″ piece of raw silk; One 16″ x 9″ piece of silk habotai; & a complete sample pack from the first assignment. All mordanted in different solutions: Alum, Soy milk, & Sumac, or no mordant at all.

Preparing the Cochineal

  • i) Grind the (10gr) of cochineal bugs into dust
  • ii) Paste the dust with a little water to better dissolve it. 
  • iii) Dilute the paste into the bucket of water.
  • iv) Pre-soak some of the materials in warm water to get better dying coverage
  • v ) Place tape, clamp, and glue resists in dry.
  • I have a separate dye bath for the silk habotai that is mordanted in an iron oxide bath.
  • I have 2 gals in my bucket.
  • (Approximate) 8% dye solution = 10gr cochineal / 120gr DWG.
  • A full sample pack of different mordanted fabrics is also in the big bucket.
  • Stitched samples will be removed after about 8 hours, the rest between 12 & 24 hours.

Stay tuned for more…


11 thoughts on “Fabrics Challenge Number Two – Resists – Cochineal Bath – Preparations…

    1. Good question, Morag. If I remember correctly it was only a few minutes at the most. I used an old brass mortar and pestle I found in a thrift shop. Maybe the bugs were very dry and old, I don’t really know. I didn’t source them myself; they were provided by the course instructor. I can say that very few people in my class for the same results as I did. That might be about process and it might be about the quality of materials. Sorry, I couldn’t be more specific.


      1. Thank you for your question, Morag. It’s really nice to talk to fellow creatives about art processes.
        The cochineal is very expensive and I’m ambivalent about the source of this die. It feels wrong to harvest livings creatures, but that’s me. There are so many other plant-based sources to play with (If I had the time, 😉).
        The course is ok, I’m making it interesting for myself. I frankly could have gotten everything they are showing us from a couple of YouTube videos and a good book. Here’s one I bought and enjoyed: “Wild Color – The complete guide to making and using natural dyes” by Jenny Dean (Here’s the link if you’re in Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/0823058794/ref=as_sl_pc_qf_sp_asin_til?tag=newrenminds-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=5ae4acea8d3b1c816358926ca5b3e3c2&creativeASIN=0823058794)

        Please share your experiences with me and know that your questions are always welcome and appreciated.


      2. I feel the same way about using animal products, as well as environmentally unfriendly products and so I am having a little crisis moment (actually a few years) considering and exploring different options. I tried eco printing with rust Mordant and soya milk pre-mordants… But I am not convinced this is a long term plan for me. I am first and foremost an expressive creative and I will use anything within the environmental friendly constraints to get my thoughts across. I am also exploring egg tempera, that is until I discovered that I was supposed to use a rabbit glue gesso. I am not keen on using rabbits so no I have been trying other things. Oh well I could go on and on, on this topic. I also live in South Africa and it is very tricky getting supplies delivered here, such as natural pigments.

        In the mean time I have also been using soft pastels… Sewing /embroidery… Paper Mache (not all in the same project, yet😜)

        Thank you for sharing the link and how you found it… I often find I am better off experimenting and learning on my own although sometimes I feel like I am reinventing the wheel.

        Thank you, I also blog about some of my experiences but a lot of people that follow me are not artists.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow!
        Rabbit glue gesso sounds horrible! I’ll have to pay closer attention to the ingredients on the gesso I use.
        As for pigments, the book I linked was full of North American plants, but I’m sure there are tons of comparatives in beautiful South Africa. Including seaweeds and shells or corals washed up on the shore.
        For the most part everything can be boiled in water or set to steep in the sun to extract colours, then modified with baking dodo (alkaline) or white vinegar (acid) to widen the colour ranges.
        Sorry, you probably already know that from your natural pigment experiments.
        I fully understand the limitations of purchasing materials.
        When I started making my limit was financial, so I started looking for inexpensive resources. Now, I get massive joy out of using reclaimed materials and naturally sourced stuff.
        It might not yield a bright chromium oil paint, but it does show me that the artists of the past understood colours better than we do, because they had to make their own.
        Eg: replace toxic encaustic supplies with melted crayola crayons. Use oil pastels for the whites and blacks.
        I do crazy stuff like this with the kids I teach and get tons of wows!!! Most of the wows are from them, but lots are from me.
        Please let me know if you have any books on local pigments or plants to recommend.


      4. Thank you, I think you are further along in the pigment department… I find what you are doing fascinating. I will let you know what I find. I kind of View myself on a slow journey of change. I want it all perfect over night but I tend to work slowly. I am still trying to figure out what it really means to call myself an artist and observing my flow energy and inspiration…. All sorts of stuff like that.

        I like using oil pastels + a solvent and painting with them..
        I follow some pigment sights on Instagram… They might be interesting to you if you don’t follow them already 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I can relate to the journey and the conflict of speed and perfection. I repeat to myself that I’ve given up any pursuit of perfection, but I know I haven’t. For me, I know I’ve lied to myself when I start overthinking what I’m doing.
        So, for the last few years I’ve been studying Wabi-Sabi. To define it as the beauty of imperfection is superficial… as my understanding of it grows, so do I find greater enjoyment in the process (exploration of materials) over the product.
        It’s helping me let go of more than what I make or any sense of perfection… it’s helping me release anchors that hold me back.
        I’ll look for you on Instagram, feel free to share what inspires you.


      6. I hope I got them correct : Plant_and_colour ; wildpigmentproject. They are two Instagram accounts that I follow and mine is morag_armstrong_noffke. You will find some art on mine but I seem to go through cycles of art, travel and gardening. It’s nice that you have something that helps you to get enjoyment and greater understanding of your process. I think perfectionism is a killer, it smothers the spirit of creativity.

        Liked by 1 person

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