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Fabric Friday Halloween Edition: Spider silk!

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Workshops - specialty vintage topics' started by denisebrain, Oct 29, 2021.

  1. denisebrain

    denisebrain VFG Vice President Staff Member VFG Past President

    It was a dark and stormy night in the hills of Madagascar. A spider the size of a human hand eats her puny male counterpart for lunch. Her web is a thing of legend, a sort of Shangri-La silk of gold.

    Into this scene come spider harvesters, 80 men and women trained to gather the huge female golden orb spiders and to place them in boxes where their silk is gathered by touching a spinneret to their abdomens. The silk sticks to this and it is pulled. Two dozen spiders are placed together to create a 24-strand thread. After this day of work, the spiders are placed back in the wild unharmed. The next day this starts all over, until years of work, and millions of spiders later, there is enough thread to create a few very, and I mean VERY special items.

    Have a look at this, and be sure to get to the part where this stunning fiber is being hand woven and embroidered.

    More about the history of spider silk: https://daily.jstor.org/the-tangled-history-of-weaving-with-spider-silk/

    I'm not sure how the recent spider silk harvesting was managed in terms of having a group of spiders together yet apart. They are cannibals after all. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!

    I found a very interesting spider silk-inspired fiber being manufactured on a limited scale. I haven't had a chance to find out more about it than what the company making it has to say, but if Stella McCartney is willing to work with it, it has a big green thumbs up.
    poppysvintageclothing likes this.
  2. Vinclothes

    Vinclothes Alumni +

    What an astounding read ! Wow!
    denisebrain likes this.
  3. Midge

    Midge Super Moderator Staff Member

    Wow, what a story! The article talks about the Solomon Islands and how spider silk there is used to catch fish - I was shown something a little like it in Vanuatu, where they would take a spider's net and put it into a triangle of sticks that has a long handle one one side and use that to catch certain fish.
  4. Vintagiality

    Vintagiality VFG Treasurer Staff Member

    Wow!!! That’s one of the most fascinating things I have seen in a long time. I had never heard of spider silk before.

    It sounds like at least it involves no spiders. They say the main input in this fiber-making process is sugar from plants that are grown, harvested, and replanted. However, it doesn’t describe the process via which these proteins are made so I suppose it may still not be environmentally friendly. I assume it involves some level of chemical processing but maybe not.

    “We originally studied real spider silk to understand the relationship between the spider DNA and the characteristics of the fibers they make. Today’s technology allows us to make those proteins without using spiders, which is a big relief to the arachnophobes among our team.” :)
  5. Vinclothes

    Vinclothes Alumni +

    Last edited: Oct 30, 2021
  6. poppysvintageclothing

    poppysvintageclothing VFG Board Member Staff Member VFG Past President

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