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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PEST BIOLOGY, ECOLOGY, AND INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT FOR SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE Title: Silk Batik using Cochineal Dye

Authors
item Anelli, Carol - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV
item Prischmann, Deirdre

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 29, 2007
Publication Date: March 23, 2007
Citation: Anelli, C.M., Prischmann, D.A. 2007. Silk Batik using Cochineal Dye. Washington State University Academic Showcase 2007, Pullman, WA, March 23, 2007.

Interpretive Summary: The history of silk, including sericulture (the production of raw silk, which requires the raising of silkworms on their natural diet, mulberry leaves) and silk manufacturing, is rich and extensive. It encompasses several famous “silk roads” (trade routes), various cultures and technologies, ideas, religions, sumptuary laws, dynasties and empires. The silk roads operated between Asia and Europe from about 200 BCE to the 14th Century. A similarly rich history surrounds the use of cochineal insects (Homoptera: Coccidae) as a dye source. Cochineal insects feed on cacti and contain carminic acid, which yields a vibrant red color upon aqueous extraction. Cochineal insects were used for centuries to dye yarn and fabrics in both Europe and the New World (particularly present day Mexico and Central America), and played a significant role in the economies of several countries. Our General Education Tier I course, “Insects, Science & World Cultures” (ENTOM 150), is designed to be strongly interdisciplinary, with “hands-on” inquiry-based approaches and active student learning. Students complete a 2-week unit on the history of sericulture, silk, and cochineal. During two laboratory sessions, students extract cochineal dye from dried insects for use with mordants, beeswax (from honey bees), and tjanting tools to create their own silk scarves. Our poster describes the methods and results for this educational unit, which demonstrates human use of three insect species and/or their products: silk fabric, cochineal insects, and beeswax.

Technical Abstract: The history of silk, including sericulture (the production of raw silk, which requires the raising of silkworms on their natural diet, mulberry leaves) and silk manufacturing, is rich and extensive. It encompasses several famous “silk roads” (trade routes), various cultures and technologies, ideas, religions, sumptuary laws, dynasties and empires. The silk roads operated between Asia and Europe from about 200 BCE to the 14th Century. A similarly rich history surrounds the use of cochineal insects (Homoptera: Coccidae) as a dye source. Cochineal insects feed on cacti and contain carminic acid, which yields a vibrant red color upon aqueous extraction. Cochineal insects were used for centuries to dye yarn and fabrics in both Europe and the New World (particularly present day Mexico and Central America), and played a significant role in the economies of several countries. Our General Education Tier I course, “Insects, Science & World Cultures” (ENTOM 150), is designed to be strongly interdisciplinary, with “hands-on” inquiry-based approaches and active student learning. Students complete a 2-week unit on the history of sericulture, silk, and cochineal. During two laboratory sessions, students extract cochineal dye from dried insects for use with mordants, beeswax (from honey bees), and tjanting tools to create their own silk scarves. Our poster describes the methods and results for this educational unit, which demonstrates human use of three insect species and/or their products: silk fabric, cochineal insects, and beeswax.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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