I have *so* got to try this.

I’m not sure what will make the best food-safe-for-bugs dye, but I’m thinking I’ll experiment with some commercial acid dyes – small batches so I’ll know what works for color, and what the worms can stand.

Dyed food makes colored cocoons

22 replies
  1. geodyne
    geodyne says:

    It is Easter, after all – they look just like easter eggs!

    Seriously, it seems to me that dyeing the food would mean the higher permeation into the silk. It makes sense.

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Yup. I wish there were some way to find out without batch-testing, which dyes they can handle in their food. I bet that Easter-egg dyes or frosting dyes would be more likely to be tolerated, but I think the acid fabric dyes are more likely to tint the silk. With all that I’ve heard about the toxic nature of some dyes (and despite the fact that I know that a lot of acid dyes are chemically identical to food colors), I’m not sure what’ll make the worms keel over. And what will go into the silk process – it has to bind to the protein enough to go through whatever membrane leads into the silk glands. But hey, with thousands of worms per season, a few test batches of a dozen or so should be no issue. I’m thinking they probably need to eat the special food for just a week or so, when they’re building their silk glands; before, they’re primarily involved in building body mass.

  3. misoranomegami
    misoranomegami says:

    Those are gorgeous! You might get some good results with the regular food dye. We made polyester rope in chemistry once and while you couldn’t dye the rope, if you mixed food dye with one of the chemicals that polyester made of, you would get fiber that color when the reaction occurred! Maybe something similar will occur with whatever becomes the silk. I loved that class! We did all sorts of crafty type stuff. We made polyester rope, we made soap, we made homemade makeup remover, you name it! ^.^

    Oh btw I meantioned to Leslie what you said about demonstrations, and she asked for your contact information but she said she may not being about to even arrange something with the department (let alone you) until next year. 🙁 Which means I won’t get to go since I’ll be graduating. Pooh. I want to see pretty silk stuff! ^.^

  4. shadowduchess
    shadowduchess says:

    Very interesting have they given an indication of what they are using?
    I think studying a bit more in depth may reveal their methods or at least someone else who may have ventured down this path.

  5. adamantine1
    adamantine1 says:

    Hi, you recently friended my old journal. I think it might have been because I’m a friend of and helped him raise the Polyphemus moths he had to a second generation? In any case, I had to tank the old journal but kept you on my friends list, and thanks for posting this. It’s marvelous.

    I’d be curious to see myself what kind of colorant one could treat the food with. Maybe if is going to raise moths again, we could give tinting a try.

  6. greeneyedpagan
    greeneyedpagan says:

    OT – need you to email me, please

    Could you email me, please, at my lj address, so we can discuss the workshop you are going to do at CMA?

    I need info from you so I can make sure I have it all right in the schedule, etc.


  7. admin
    admin says:

    I’m going to try a couple of *small* trial groups, coloring their food with acid dyes, perhaps icing coloring. I figure if I keep the groups small, there’s not a big risk of losing a bunch of them.

  8. admin
    admin says:

    Umm… I haven’t done anything with the stuff I’ve got already; I need to stop acquiring until I get some more yarn worked up.

    I noticed a knitting post in your journal… yesterday, maybe? Cool! Let me know if you find yourself needing anything – I’ve got my Grandma’s entire stash, plus lots of needles, couple of books, etc.

  9. nadalia
    nadalia says:

    I wonder if it works like the chickens in Africa that lay colored eggs. They call them Easter CHickens because the food they eat turns the eggs pink, blue, green, yellow, etc.

  10. vickieldredge
    vickieldredge says:

    LOL I saw this article on the internet and immediately hopped on here to see if you had seen it yet. I so should have known you’d have been aware!

    (side note – interesting how LJ communities can create that kind of familiarity among total strangers, eh?)

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