I first learned about the natural dye cochinilla when I visited Oaxaca, Mexico, many many years ago.  Since my mom is a textile artist and lover of all things woven and dyed, of course we visited many places working with natural dyes while traveling together.

Cochinilla insects on a cactus plant

Cochinilla insects on a cactus plant

Turns out, the beautiful reddish pink color comes from the cochinilla insect  (“cochineal” in English).  Now, you might think this is a bit gross; I think it is fascinating.  These beetles eat the red cactus fruits, and retain the color in their bodies.  The insects are harvested, dried, and crushed to create what is called the cochineal extract.

Here’s a short video focusing more on the use of these beetles for food coloring:

As for textiles, cochinilla is one of the strongest dyes found in nature, only second to indigo.  So it’s only natural that it can be found in many art forms all over the world:

Ground-up cochinilla and the resulting reds from the dye, woven. From the Andes.

Shibori-dyed with cochinilla.

Beautiful cochinilla hues.


Believe it or not, these vibrant colors are long-lasting, so you’re sure to enjoy the bright color in our Hummingbird Collection for years to come.

Hummingbird Collection in Cochinilla

Hummingbird Collection in Cochinilla


And hey, if you haven’t yet seen the video about the process of naturally-dying and backstrap weaving, check it out now!