Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cobweb Cape

The above cape took more than four years to create and 80 people were involved in the process. This extraordinary garment – which is naturally gold-coloured – was woven entirely from Golden Orb Weaver spider silk, which is known for both its intense color and strength.

UK’s The Sun had reported Monday that Brit Simon Peers and American Nicholas Godley – residing in Madagascar – as the men behind the design. Inspired by 19th century accounts and illustrations they started experimenting with spider silk in 2004 to see if they could revive the lost tradition.

What’s amazing is that these spiders were collected every morning from the Madagascan highlands and harnessed in special "silking" contraptions. Trained handlers would then extract the silk from 24 spiders at a time before being taken it to a weaving workshop. At the end of each day, the spiders were returned to the wild.

Only the females of the species, which isn’t poisonous, produce the silk filaments, 24 of which are twisted by hand into a single strand, then twisted again with three other similar strands to make the silk thread. It took 1.2 million of these spiders to produce this 11x4-foot shawl and is one of only two such silk textiles that exist worldwide.

If you’re in London, the Golden Spider Silk goes on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum on January 25, 2012.

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