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Black Sheep Handweavers Guild is an HGA and CNCH affiliated guild located in the San Francisco Bay Area. The purpose of the Black Sheep Handweavers Guild is to promote the exchange of ideas and knowledge in the textile arts, and to encourage efforts and activities in all fields of textiles.

September 15 – Kris Nardello & Tell

Reds, Glorious Reds: The Cultivation and Use of Cochineal for Dye in Oaxaca, Mexico

Kris NardelloCochineal is a scale insect that lives on the pads of Prickly Pear Cactus (genus Opuntia) and
whose body and eggs contain carminic acid, an historically important natural dye. To the Maya and Aztec people of Mexico and Central America, cochineal dyed textiles were created as early as the second century BC and dried cochineal insects were paid first as annual tribute to Montezuma in the 15th century as recorded in Codex Osuna. Second only to silver in value, cochineal was then sent back to Spain by the conquistadores after they defeated this powerful ruler. Spain maintained a monopoly on this magnificent red dye source for several hundred years. Carmine, a dye and pigment produced from cochineal, was used to dye Catholic cardinals’ robes and the uniform jackets of English Redcoats.


Our guild meets monthly on the third Thursday of each month at 7PM. Click here to get to the members’ only calendar. If you are not a member but wish to join us, please leave us a note and someone from the Membership committee will reach out to you.