I was not interested in making colour with anything other than plants.
I was aware of cochineal and its history. I have seen the chumbera prickly pears cacti wither succumbing to their insect parasite. I have marveled at the cochineal insects in my garden, I initially thought them to be a strange fungi.
I read about cochineal as I investigated the history of colour. The source of bright pinks, reds and organges from Mexico that were traded throughout the world. Both the cochineal and their cacti host are considered invasive species here in Andalucia. Initially this had surprised me, the chumbera seemed so ubiquitous and settled in the landscape. I am learning, I am also not autochthonous.
I am not interested in making colour with anything other than plants. Then a neighbour cuts an infected cactus and I find myself with cochineal and curiosity.