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Designers Create Golden Cloth from Spider Silk


In Greek mythology, the young weaver Arachne was transformed into a spider by the jealous goddess Athena. All spiders (arachnids) were doomed to spin and weave forever, but never to achieve the beautiful results that had made Athena so envious in the first place. That is maybe until now.
 
A British designer, Simon Peers, and an American designer, Nicholas Godley, collaborated to create an amazing achievement - a shawl and a cape woven entirely from the web silk of golden silk orb spiders.

The stunning brocade and garment garment are on display in the room display "Golden Spider Silk" at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum is world-famous for its design, textile, and historical costume collections. Room exhibits offer the insitution a way of showcasing specialty garments or techniques that don't fit into the scope of a larger exhibit.

Peers and Godley explain the fascinating process behind creating the largest piece of spider silk cloth in the world in a 7-minute video about the display. You can see how "millions of spiders and thousands of hours" created the fabric. Peers and Godley began working with female golden silk orb spiders in Madagascar in 2004, inspired by 19th century accounts of artists attempting to form fabric from spider silk. 

An 80-page booklet describing the spider-silk cloth process is also available at the V&A website. If you have the opportunity to visit the V&A, "Golden Spider Silk" is on display in Room 17a through June 5, 2012. Admission is free.

Comments (11)

TTrdh TTrdh writes: Besides all the other superlatives I agree with and cannot add to, I was wondering how this was funded? How were the workers paid. My curiosity only. Anybody know?
Posted: 4:56 pm on March 18th

Stillsewing Stillsewing writes: This shawl is indeed marvelous! I have just returned from london where very high on my list of "mustdos" was a visit to the V & A to see it. The work that went into this garment is marvelous but the uses that the spider silk can be put to in future is also inspiring.

So well done for drawing our attention to this fabulous piece of workmanship!!!
Posted: 2:21 pm on February 18th

pseaton pseaton writes: I, too, am completely awed by the idea, the execution and the absolute beauty of the project. I think spiders have been vindicated.
Posted: 3:40 pm on February 16th

Butterscotchchick Butterscotchchick writes: In awe! #jaw drops!
Posted: 11:39 am on February 15th

nanacosta nanacosta writes: May God bless the hands that made this extraordinary piece!!!!! It may sounds rare....but I love spiders and the lovely tale about Athena and Aragne.....where the roots of my name came from!!!! That is not important, what is important is the wonderfull piece of fabric made with the spider silk, and the magnificent "work of art" that the embroiderers did on it.....it seems to me that the piece was embroidered in India??? I would love to know more about this piece. The video was lovely, do...it is a pity that I could not hear it properly, but no complain....I was really speachless looking at the creation of this piece. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us this wonderfull videos!!!
Posted: 8:42 am on February 15th

DeborahHemlow DeborahHemlow writes: Simply amazing and beautiful!
Posted: 7:55 am on February 15th

Serral Serral writes: Is this the same piece that Godley had on display at the Museum of Natural History in NYC? The texture and sheen were spectacular. The spiders were intimidating...
Posted: 6:20 am on February 15th

GigiDear GigiDear writes: This is a piece that defies words. The color of Madagascar golden orb spider silk! It belongs in the dictionary next to the word "gold."
The harvesting is not shown in the video -- too bad. How fascinating. And the spiders then being released back into their habitat! They must have really wowed the other spiders with their tales! Almost like being abducted by aliens. . .
LOL
The weaving -- I stand in awe of you weavers. How delicate! How precise!
The embroidery! I love embroidery, being a stitcher myself. I love working with silkworm silk. I'd love to be able to touch some of the golden orb spider silk. . .
The overall piece is incredible. Thank you for conceiving of it, for pursuing the dream, and for sharing it with us.

Posted: 7:22 pm on February 14th

skeena skeena writes: A similar weaving was displayed at the American Museum of Natural History a couple of years ago. See http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/spidersilk/
The photographs do not do either of these spectacular pieces justice. The silk is luminous and the weaving extraordinary.
Posted: 4:28 pm on February 14th

alaskapsych alaskapsych writes: I've been reading about this for several weeks. What an amazing project. I cannot fathom the dedication! Just beautiful!
Posted: 11:12 am on February 10th

eMMb eMMb writes: Amazing! Also, what beautiful hand work. I've struggled to work with fine silk thread, I can only imagine how challenging it was to work with spider silk. Kudos to all involved (including the spiders).
Posted: 10:03 am on February 10th

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