Tixinda is a sea snail that is milked by Mixtec dyers from Oaxaca, Mexico. The snails ‘foot’ is pressed to encourage it to secrete a milky liquid, which stains yarn a bruisy greenish color. As it oxidizes, it turns first blue, and then a brilliant colorfast reddish purple.
Once ‘milked,’ the snail is returned, unharmed, to its habitat. The cove where it lives will be visited only once per lunar cycle by the dyers, to give snails time to recover. Dyeing occurs only from October to May so as not to interfere with the snails’ breeding season.
This is one of the most ancient dyeing methods still in practice today.