Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spider Silk Tapestry

This amazing tapestry was woven entirely from spider's silk. I just watched NOVA's new program, Making Stuff 'Stronger," and this segment was featured.

From the American Museum of Natural History's website:

'A spectacular and extremely rare textile, woven from golden-colored silk thread produced by more than one million spiders in Madagascar, goes on display Wednesday, September 23 in the Museum's Grand Gallery. This magnificent contemporary textile, measuring 11 feet by 4 feet, took four years to make using a painstaking technique developed more than 100 years ago.

This unique textile was created drawing on the legacy of a French missionary, Jacob Paul Camboué, who worked with spiders in Madagascar in the 1880s and 1890s. Camboué worked to collect and weave spider silk but with limited success, and no surviving textile is now known to exist. Previously, the only known spider-silk textile of note was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, and it was subsequently lost.

Producing the spider silk—the only example of its kind displayed anywhere in the world—involved the efforts of 70 people who collected spiders daily from webs on telephone wires, using long poles. These spiders were all collected during the rainy season (the only time when they produce silk) from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, and the surrounding countryside. These giant spider webs are a well-known feature of the capital, and frequently surprise international visitors. A dozen more people were needed to draw the silk from the spiders with hand-powered machines, with each spider producing about 80 feet of silk filament. This intricately-patterned spider silk features stylized birds and flowers and is based on a weaving tradition known as lamba Akotifahana from the highlands of Madagascar, an art reserved for the royal and upper classes of the Merina people (who are concentrated in the Central highlands). Silkworm silk has been used for a long period in Madagascar, however, there is no tradition of weaving spider silk in Madagascar. In this unique lamba cloth, the individual threads used for weaving are made by twisting 96 to 960 individual spider silk filaments together.'

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails