This is a blog post on eco-printing on fabric using cochineal. It is my first few experiments on eco printing. My curiosity about this craft was after getting interested in natural dyeing. In the past, I have done experiments on eco-dyeing but it was all a mixture of blurry mixture of all colors. That was about 2 years ago. Now after more information on natural dyes, the results are much better. There is not much information about eco-printing. Many crafters and designers are keeping a tight lip about their techniques. So don’t be surprised if most of the information you get is very much skim of the surface information. Cochineal prints do last a long time. It’s a natural dye been around for a long time. Here is more information about it. In fact, one can even find wild cochineal living on cactus plants. However, the ones that are commercially bought are cultivated and produce a much stronger dye color.
update 08/2023. Now I currently using more cochineal and have created more amazing prints. It’s about the technique as they say. Below are the first few prints when I first started they looked terrible compared to the above print. I am still looking for new ways of printing. Let’s just say my technique has just got better over time.
Eco printing on fabric using cochineal.
I chose cochineal as it’s a dye that is easy to manipulate or adjust as it is a ph sensitive dye. Other types of dyes like indigo are not such good dyes to print as indigo is not soluble in water not unless you are just dyeing the process with another color. As it is my first experiment I decided to go best with what information is out there as well. I have dyed cochineal with various types of fibers and the best and most vibrant result was silk.
After dyeing with cochineal. Here is a link on how to dye with cochineal. I lay fresh leaves which I found in the garden on top of it. As the leaves were not all fugitive (lasting dye) I am only using the leaves to make an imprint onto the fabric. Then tannin using gall nut powder paste was painted over the leaves. Then the painted tannin side leaves were laid on top of the cochineal dye silk. This was a sandwich in between a layer of plastic to prevent bleeding between layers. Then an iron soak blanket/cloth was put on top. As a result, as the iron blanket acts as a mordant, there will be color changes to the fabric.
This is rolled into a tight bundle with string and steam for about 1 hour. Here is the result of it the first picture on top. It isn’t the most perfect eco print but it’s a start. It is too much dampness possibly the bundle is not tight enough.