Fabric Woven from Spider Webs
Last week the American Museum of Natural History unveiled a cloth woven entirely from the silk spun by female golden orb spiders of Madagascar.
This silk has a natural saffron color and has a strength five to six times stronger than steel.
The harvesting technique reads like a tragic epic with every possible problem nature could throw at the scientists: Only the females make the silk, but they’re prone to eating each other and will completely destroy one another if left alone too long. These arachnid ladies also only spin in the winter, but only when rain conditions are just right.
Five years ago fashion designer Nicholas Godley paired up with a British scientist, Simon Peers, to try and harvest the silk from the spiders. Last week their hard work went on display at the museum and will be there for six months. It took more than 80 people to create this breathtaking textile that was woven with traditional, royal designs from Madagascar.
Godley and Peers are not the first to try this amazing feat–Francois Xavier Bon de Saint Hilaire created an entire suit for Louis the XIV in 1710 from spider cocoon silk.
The process and history of this is truly fascinating and you can learn more about it in the feature on the New York Times website or read more on the American Museum of Natural History’s site. They also have a video documenting details of the cloth.
Nicholas Godley, left, and Simon Peers at the American Museum of Natural History with the hand-woven fabric
The 11-foot-long fabric woven entirely from golden orb spiders.