Earthues Natural Dye Extracts

We traveled looking for the world of color in 1977 when I spent two years in Latin
America, researching textile and dye techniques of the Americas.  The journey took us
to the coast of Oaxaca to see purple shellfish dyeing, and into the Mayan rainforest to
grind roots and leaves to make traditional colors of the elusive Lacandon people.  We
drove into South America in search of cochineal and other traditional colorants of the
altiplano. This passion for color has brought me to the banks of the Mekong, into the
indigo-dyeing regions of southwest China, into the remote Tibet-Burma border, and to
the advancing desert of West Africa, all in search of natural dyestuffs and supplies to
offer artisans. From the most humble roots, bark, insects and blossoms, a spectacular
palette emerges, all natural and non-toxic. The dyes we carry are carefully tested to
ensure quality and successful results.  In most cases, we have visited the areas and
facilities where our dyes are made, and know the producers personally.  Each purchase
you make helps support a villager, a grower, a cooperative, and a traditional way of
making color.


Cochineal extract - Cochineal is a scale insect that feeds on the nopal cactus in arid areas of
Mexico, Peru, Chile and the Canary Islands, and 85% of the harvest is cultivated by Andean
villagers, employing an estimated 400,000 families with this precious cash crop.  It is the only
natural red colorant approved by the FDA for food, drugs and cosmetics. We offer an
exceptionally high grade of cochineal extract. A potent colorant, cochineal is one of our most
concentrated dyes - only need a very small percentage is needed to dye deep shades of
fuchsia to raspberry. Cochineal is pH sensitive, and it is possible to shift its color to scarlet
with the addition of acid.  Use distilled water for dyeing if you live in a hard water area to
obtain brightest shades.
Cochineal bugs - Raw cochineal comes to us in the form of silvery-purple dried insects about
the size of a large grain of rice. They look like tiny little scarabs. The best cochineal is dark and
full of carminic acid. They must be ground and boiled to extract the dyestuff, and yield a
beautiful rose violet to scarlet color quite distinctive from cochineal extract.  We only obtain
the finest grade cochineal on the market. Includes instructions.  
Lac extract - Lac is a scale insect known from antiquity throughout India, Southeast Asia,
Nepal and China.  It can be found in both wild and cultivated form as an infestation on trees of
the Ficus or raintree families.  The word Lakh in Sanskrit means "hundreds of thousands", and
it is still used today in India to denote 100,000.  After the female lac insect invades the stems
and twigs of host trees, the insects are enveloped by their own secretions.  This hard resinous
coating originates from the plant sap metabolized by the lac insect.  The dye must be extracted
from the resinous coating before it can be successfully used to color cloth.  The resin is
known as shellac, and is used for lacquer and as a protective covering for wood.  Lac's active
color ingredient, laccaic acid responds well to alum mordants yielding rich shades of crimson
to pink and purple to burgundy. Includes instructions.  
Madder extract - Madder is one of the oldest and most frequently used traditional dyestuffs
known to man.  It has extensive history in Turkey, India and Iran where it is still being used.  
The secret for Turkey red, a deep rich madder red color, was guarded for centuries throughout
Central Asia.  To this day, madder red is still considered a mysterious color.  Madder dyes to
its truest colors with an alum mordant in hard water at temperatures that do not exceed 160 F.
We provide a very strong madder extract that yields lovely, deep orange-red to deep red
Madder root - First quality ground roots make dyeing with this traditional dye easy.  We like
to steep the roots, add fiber and simmer at low temperatures to develop a dark red. We use
100% on the weight of the goods for deepest cranberry to garnet shades.  Includes
Quebracho Red - Quebracho grows only in the jungles of the Gran Chaco, an area along the
banks of the Paraguay River.  The entire tree, bark to heartwood, has a distinctive red
coloration, and the wood is quite heavy and extremely hard.  The name is derived from the
quebrar, to break, and hacha, an axe.  It is quite slow growing, and therefore is
harvested selectively from tree farms that participate in reforestation efforts.  Quebracho has a
long history as a tanning agent and as a dye.  It is most suitable for dyeing cellulose fibers,
but also performs well on silks, and yields a lovely pinkish peach to brown rose color.   
5129 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle WA 98107

T: 206-789-1065
F: 206-783-9676
Top: cochineal bugs
Bottom: cochineal extract
Background: cochineal dyed yarns and cloth
Left: Lac extract
Right: Sticklac
Background: yarns and fabrics dyed with lac and sticklac
Lac-madder extract
Left: madder extract
Right: madder root
Background: cloth and yarns dyed with madder
Quebracho Red extract
Copyright 2003, 2004 by Michele Wipplinger. No portion of this website or its images may be copied or reproduced by any means without the express written permission of Michele Wipplinger