The Red Frame

The remnants of the sides of the original block form a frame for the sculpture and are painted red using a historically noteworthy dye called cochineal. This dye comes from Dactylopius coccusnative, a scale insect that is native to Mexico and feeds on red cactus berries. The insects produce a red-pigmented substance that is believed to serve as a defense against predators. The red pigment is harvested by cochineal “farmers”; it takes about 155 insects to make one gram of cochineal dye. The quality of the dye is strongly correlated with how much carminic acid it contains. Carminic acid, also known as natural red dye number 4, consists of anthraquinone, which is largely responsible for its red color, and glucose, a common sugar.

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