FEEDBACK FRIDAY: This Week in Natural Dye Questions

This week: Fumes from dyeing inside your home and shifting cochineal

Every week, we are emailed with questions from our natural dye community asking simple and complex questions that we thought might be worth sharing. Of course, all of your burning questions are answered by natural dyer in chief, Kathy Hattori, Founder of Botanical Colors.

I’m in an inside space with low quality air flow. Would the indigo dying 1-2-3 process be safe to do in my home?

Great question! The 1-2-3 vat does not give off a strong odor like other types of indigo vats, so “fumes” should not be a problem. It does have a sweet smell if you use fructose, and smells a bit more herbal and earthy if you use henna. I would not recommend an iron vat indoors in the space that you describe as the iron powder can waft and it can also stain any surface.

A lot of the old cochineal-dyes textiles in New Mexico have a slight orange tint, definitely not fuschia. Can that be done with your extract?

Cochineal is ph sensitive and the addition of a mild acid like cream of tartar will shift the color redder, or more orange-ish. I’ve seen the dyers add cut up lines and leaves (not sure what variety) to their cochineal baths.