Cochineal Red I


4 oz alum
1 oz cochineal
2 cups of non-fermented bran water (1/2 c bran soaked in hot water 20 min, drained, filtered)
1 lb wool cloth
1.5 oz cream of tartar

Boil 4 oz of alum in 3 gal water. Add wetted fabric, boil 1 hour. Let cool in the alum bath. Rinse.

Add 1 oz cochineal, ground fine, to 4 gallons of water and 2 cups of bran water. Bring the bath to a boil, and let it cool to 190 degrees. Add the wetted wool. Keep at 190 for 90 minutes, stirring often.

Added a cup of vinegar after 20 minutes, as it looked too pink.


Mix 1.5 oz cream of tartar with 3 gal water. Bring to a boil. Add fabric, stir for 20 minutes just below boiling. Rinse.

This was based on Plictho recipe #88.

This was disappointingly pink; I was going for scarlet more than purple. I suspect this was caused by the following factors: 1. I used the standard 4 oz alum to 1 lb wool. Dyer & Scourer states that alum saddens cochineal, and my unmordanted piece was redder than the alumed piece. 2. I used tap water rather than distilled, and our tap water's a tad hard. 3. I did not add tartar to the mordant, as I wanted to see what a pure alum mordant would do. 4. I did not predye it with yellow, as mentioned in the Plictho.s recipe. 5. I did not double dye it, as stated in the Dyer and Scourer.

The tartar afterbath made an unbelievable difference in color. I used the Dyer and Scourer's amounts for mordants and cochineal, and tried to emulate Plictho's process (with the exception of the strong water.) Also, I only had enough grain for 1 bath instead of the 2 mentioned in the Dyer and Scourer.

Next time: use distilled water, pre dye one piece with weld, cut the alum by half, and add a set with an alum and tartar mordant. Also, add lye & bran to the afterbath after Plictho's other recipe, to see what happens. Try omitting bran from the main dye bath. Omit the vinegar, regardless of how purple the pot is.

1.No alum mordant, no tartar afterbath.
2.No alum mordant, tartar afterbath.
3.Alum mordant, tartar afterbath.
4.Alum mordant, no tartar.

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