Cochineal is a rare and precious dye made by a scale insect that infests Prickly Pear cactus. There are both wild and cultivated forms. Ours is cultivated by traditional methods, outside, in the high Andes of Peru. The insect is harvested after it’s life cycle is complete. (It is not killed for the dye!) Cultivation and post-life-cycle harvesting of the cochineal is traditional to this part of the world.
Whole dried scale insects look like berries. 80-90% of the dye extracts with just two, 30-minute periods of boiling in plain water.
Cheryl has created a Cochineal Natural Dye Kit with enough dye and mordants to complete 12 colors with this one dye! From true scarlet with tin to true Crimson with Alum, to lavenders using Copper and iron, the full range of this amazing dyestuff can be easily explored.