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Lake of cochineal is violet; I've been lied to


Deo Lawson
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If washing the lake does not work, then the problem is likely due to a contaminant.  The OP does not appear to have great chemistry skills.  There is not a lot that we can do to help him.  I suggest that he purchase the stuff from Kremer.  

For your general information, all fats and oils are organic acids.  The measurement of pH is meaningless for this situation since they are not soluble in water until you react them with something like sodium hydroxide--then you make a soap.  

The attempt to finish a musical instrument is filled with chemistry issues.  And from my observation on this website, most of you have never taken a high school chemistry course.   This presents a real problem for success.

The products that everyone wants to use are those of Koen Padding, but he died without leaving a recipe book.  Thanks to a few of his friends, we have figured out a couple of his recipes.  Hargrave and Michetschlager have contributed to our present understanding.

The power of the modern pigments is that they are color-fast and often more transparent.  Chocineal lakes, Madder lakes and even of some of the varnishes (mediums) such as megilp are unstable.  It is a mystery why people are attracted to this stuff that fails the test of time because it is going to eventually fail for them, too.  It would be nice to know what the original varnish looked like.

Mike D

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16 minutes ago, Mike_Danielson said:

...

The power of the modern pigments is that they are color-fast and often more transparent.  Chocineal lakes, Madder lakes and even of some of the varnishes (mediums) such as megilp are unstable.  It is a mystery why people are attracted to this stuff that fails the test of time because it is going to eventually fail for them, too.  It would be nice to know what the original varnish looked like.

Mike D

Well said, Mike. Yesterday I wrote a long opinion on this very issue of using fugitive materials. I was even recommending modern substitutes but realized that no one is interested.  (Notice how my previous post’s question about using modern pigments was largely met with crickets.) I understand that most makers think that new pigments cannot match the original colors. Not true. So, I deleted it and moved on. 

 

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48 minutes ago, Deo Lawson said:

You miss the fact that some of us don't care what is efficient and modern...

Trying to hang with you guys I have a question - were you thinking that you would have a madder red or brown when you were finished thus needing nothing else or were you not thinking that far ahead yet?  

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1 hour ago, Deo Lawson said:

You miss the fact that some of us don't care what is efficient and modern. I do this for the novelty and fun of using historical methods (and the necessity of whatever instrument I don't feel like buying) :)

 

Anyhow, diy is still cheaper than kremer...

Snark Alert:

Does that mean that it is cheaper to do it wrong?

Mike D

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On 5/26/2021 at 11:39 AM, fiddlecollector said:

Hi, There are examples of Mexican cochineal in Turkmen textiles as far back as the 16th century , it became pretty common in usage by the 17th century.  They probably had access to Armenian, Arrarat ,Polish  etc.. cochineal before that.

According to the most important recent research on the use of cochineal in Turkmen weavings, Jürg Rageth's Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective (2016), you are correct about Mexican cochineal showing up (rare in extremely rare weavings to begin with...) in 16th c. weavings.  I had not realized that it had made such an early appearance, until I went back into that source just now.  However, but you seriously overstate the evidence to say "it became pretty common usage by the 17th century." Rageth (p. 318-9) states--"Until the 18th century, the dyestuff was used very carefully and in small amounts, sometimes even in only a few knots."  Rageth goes on to point out that Armenian cochineal and kermes have not been found in any Turkmen weavings.  Lac was the main insect dye they used, as I said, and its use on wool continued, even when small amounts of Mexican cochineal-dyed silk were introduced among the Salor Turkmen.  In the later 19th century, just before synthetic dyes became widely available, there was an expansion in the use of Mexican cochineal-dyed wool among the Turkmen, as I described, apparently because it became much less expensive.  The piece I showed was woven by the Tekke Turkmen who in fact did not use cochineal-dyed wool so lavishly until it became cheaper in the second half of the 19th century, which was the point I tried to make, albeit clumsily.  Mea culpa. 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ina-Vanden-Berghe/publication/316213342_The_Identification_of_Cochineal_Species_in_Turkmen_Weavings_A_Special_Challenge_in_the_Field_of_Dye_Analysis/links/597f09590f7e9b8802eba66b/The-Identification-of-Cochineal-Species-in-Turkmen-Weavings-A-Special-Challenge-in-the-Field-of-Dye-Analysis.pdf

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3 hours ago, palousian said:

According to the most important recent research on the use of cochineal in Turkmen weavings, Jürg Rageth's Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective (2016), you are correct about Mexican cochineal showing up (rare in extremely rare weavings to begin with...) in 16th c. weavings.  I had not realized that it had made such an early appearance, until I went back into that source just now.  However, but you seriously overstate the evidence to say "it became pretty common usage by the 17th century." Rageth (p. 318-9) states--"Until the 18th century, the dyestuff was used very carefully and in small amounts, sometimes even in only a few knots."  Rageth goes on to point out that Armenian cochineal and kermes have not been found in any Turkmen weavings.  Lac was the main insect dye they used, as I said, and its use on wool continued, even when small amounts of Mexican cochineal-dyed silk were introduced among the Salor Turkmen.  In the later 19th century, just before synthetic dyes became widely available, there was an expansion in the use of Mexican cochineal-dyed wool among the Turkmen, as I described, apparently because it became much less expensive.  The piece I showed was woven by the Tekke Turkmen who in fact did not use cochineal-dyed wool so lavishly until it became cheaper in the second half of the 19th century, which was the point I tried to make, albeit clumsily.  Mea culpa. 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ina-Vanden-Berghe/publication/316213342_The_Identification_of_Cochineal_Species_in_Turkmen_Weavings_A_Special_Challenge_in_the_Field_of_Dye_Analysis/links/597f09590f7e9b8802eba66b/The-Identification-of-Cochineal-Species-in-Turkmen-Weavings-A-Special-Challenge-in-the-Field-of-Dye-Analysis.pdf

You probably know far more than me about Turkmen rugs/textiles,etc... I was just making the point that it was available relatively early on. I maybe should have said that it was commonly available if you could afford to purchase the pre dyed wool/silk or the actual dyestuff !:)

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On 5/28/2021 at 1:23 AM, palousian said:

According to the most important recent research on the use of cochineal in Turkmen weavings, Jürg Rageth's Turkmen Carpets: A New Perspective (2016), you are correct about Mexican cochineal showing up (rare in extremely rare weavings to begin with...) in 16th c. weavings.  I had not realized that it had made such an early appearance, until I went back into that source just now.  However, but you seriously overstate the evidence to say "it became pretty common usage by the 17th century." Rageth (p. 318-9) states--"Until the 18th century, the dyestuff was used very carefully and in small amounts, sometimes even in only a few knots."  Rageth goes on to point out that Armenian cochineal and kermes have not been found in any Turkmen weavings.  Lac was the main insect dye they used, as I said, and its use on wool continued, even when small amounts of Mexican cochineal-dyed silk were introduced among the Salor Turkmen.  In the later 19th century, just before synthetic dyes became widely available, there was an expansion in the use of Mexican cochineal-dyed wool among the Turkmen, as I described, apparently because it became much less expensive.  The piece I showed was woven by the Tekke Turkmen who in fact did not use cochineal-dyed wool so lavishly until it became cheaper in the second half of the 19th century, which was the point I tried to make, albeit clumsily.  Mea culpa. 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ina-Vanden-Berghe/publication/316213342_The_Identification_of_Cochineal_Species_in_Turkmen_Weavings_A_Special_Challenge_in_the_Field_of_Dye_Analysis/links/597f09590f7e9b8802eba66b/The-Identification-of-Cochineal-Species-in-Turkmen-Weavings-A-Special-Challenge-in-the-Field-of-Dye-Analysis.pdf

Did you read my article in The Strad?

Scarlet Fever.  September 2018

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2 hours ago, joerobson said:

Did you read my article in The Strad?

Scarlet Fever.  September 2018

Alas, I am not a subscriber, but this sounds like a really interesting article (is there a link that a civilian could use?).  I suppose that the use of these dyestuffs in varnish is really an entirely different rabbit hole from the equally-vast field of antique-textile-dyeing, but I thought it was an interesting connection.  Apologies for my detour, if it was annoying.

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1 hour ago, palousian said:

Alas, I am not a subscriber, but this sounds like a really interesting article (is there a link that a civilian could use?).  I suppose that the use of these dyestuffs in varnish is really an entirely different rabbit hole from the equally-vast field of antique-textile-dyeing, but I thought it was an interesting connection.  Apologies for my detour, if it was annoying.

Not at all...I did much research in the dye trade as I developed the Cochineal Varnish.

I'll see if the Strad will provide a link.

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On 5/18/2021 at 9:15 AM, Deo Lawson said:

I made some lake from cochineal using sodium carbonate and potash alum, and it came out wonderfully violet. I want red, though.

I assume some additive is necessary to retain the red colour in alkali... or can the lake later be washed in an acidic solution to make it red again? I haven't tried that yet before.

Do you know where I could find a recipe for making lake? I had the chance to visit a cochineal farm last month and came back with a little bag of it that I'm hoping to use; but have no experience with extracting pigment. (Did not know until yesterday that there is something called "lake")

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2 hours ago, fiddlerjer said:

Do you know where I could find a recipe for making lake? I had the chance to visit a cochineal farm last month and came back with a little bag of it that I'm hoping to use; but have no experience with extracting pigment. (Did not know until yesterday that there is something called "lake")

Aha -- found a good explanation of the process here -- https://sunsikell.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/how-to-make-a-lake-pigment/

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12 hours ago, fiddlerjer said:

Do you know where I could find a recipe for making lake? I had the chance to visit a cochineal farm last month and came back with a little bag of it that I'm hoping to use; but have no experience with extracting pigment. (Did not know until yesterday that there is something called "lake")

This is a good source, recommended:  https://www.kremer-pigmente.com/it/shop/libri-carte-di-colori/992405-kirby-et-al-natural-colorants-for-dyeing-and-lake-pigments.html

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On 5/18/2021 at 11:49 AM, Brumcello said:

This link may help, cochineal (carmine) is red at neutral pH, goes orange at acid pH and purple at alkali pH

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/carminic-acid

I believe this is the answer. My cochineal lake turned violet as well. Likely due to the baseness of the precipitation concoction. Cochineal mixed with madder lake gives a nice reddish colour. 

Joe Robson has figured this out as he does this for a living. 

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ok, so we're (me and a classmate) going to try making carmine lake starting next week, after I get some ingredients. My plan is to grind cochineal, boil for a couple of hours (possibly with a little cream of tartar? or maybe I will boil two batches, one with tartar and one without), then strain and separate into a couple of jars to which I'll add solution of alum (one jar) or guar gum (other jar) and of sodium carbonate. Maybe I will add cream of tartar at this point (not sure whether I should add it while boiling the dye or after adding the mordant + alkali). I'm thinking I will have one batch that has no tartar in it and expecting that to be quite violet, the ones with tartar should be redder. I have no idea what the difference will be between alum and guar gum as a mordant but it seems worth investigating. (Hopefully someone will let me know why this is a dumb idea.) Over the next week we will wash and refine the batches (maybe adding tartar or citric acid or vinegar?) and then strain and dye them, hopefully we will come out with something usable...

edit to add Looking around further it seems like adding acid (or adding much acid) is a bad idea, and that I should instead try varying the amount/strength of alkali in the dye bath. Am I right to think gum will work as a mordant, alone or in combination with alum? 

What proportions/quantities should I be thinking of for processing 100g of bugs?

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On 5/18/2021 at 4:15 PM, Deo Lawson said:

I made some lake from cochineal using sodium carbonate and potash alum, and it came out wonderfully violet. I want red, though.

I assume some additive is necessary to retain the red colour in alkali... or can the lake later be washed in an acidic solution to make it red again? I haven't tried that yet before.

Hi Deo

It depends very much on the substrate.

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On 2/3/2022 at 8:52 PM, fiddlerjer said:

Found some recipes for Carmine lake in Josef Bursch's "The Manufacture of Mineral and Lake Pigments", https://archive.org/details/manufactureofmin00bersrich/page/356/mode/2up?ref=ol&view=theater

And more reading -- "The Technology of Red Lake Pigment Manufacture: Study of the Dyestuff Substrate" by Jo Kirby et al., https://www.jstor.org/stable/42616314 

On 2/4/2022 at 4:35 AM, D. Piolle said:

Hi Deo

It depends very much on the substrate.

(hoping the article will help me understand better, just what "substrate" means... -- is it just the same as "mordant"?)

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I’ll emphasize what others have said. Cochineal’s color is dependent on the metal used to make the lake, the pH of the mix used to precipitate the lake, and the pH of the medium in which it is mixed. The strong low pH (acid) of oil varnishes pulls the color red-side. However, the acidity can make the lake fugitive. This is a difficult balance to achieve. I love the colors of cochineal but avoid it because it is so temperamental. 

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