I have been scraping white fuzz found on some of the cactus along E. Guenther Street to collect female cochineal bugs used in dyeing wool. This dyed wool is then used at Mission Espada to demonstrate weaving. It has been a fun and informative experience to take a bug and convert it to a dye bath that results in beautiful pinks, reds, purples and lavenders.
We are lucky to have so much information about ancient processes readily available through our library and the Internet. The two principal resources that I have used are A Dyer’s Manual, by Jill Goodwin (Pelham Books, London, 1982) and Cochineal: A Bright Red Animal Dye, by LaVerne M. Dutton (1992 Master of Science Thesis, Environmental Archeology, Baylor University). If you have a cactus that is covered with white fuzz, let me know. I may want to collect some more bugs. I will be glad to share the detailed process how to collect and prepare the bugs for dyeing.