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Golden Spider Silk at the American Museum of Natural History

September 23, 2009

Spider Scarf

For the first time in more than 100 years (and possibly the first time ever, but that depends on whether you believe 18th century accounts with no remaining evidence to back them up) spider silk has been used to weave cloth.  The NYTimes has the very interesting article here. The silk of the golden orb spider of Madagascar is five to six times stronger than steel by weight (really, a journalist tried to break a thread and couldn’t) and a beautiful golden yellow color. It took a Spiderherculean effort to weave the cloth, including collecting 3,000 spiders a day on the island of Madagascar which were then monitored by trained spider handlers who would extract 400 yards or so of thread which were then hand twisted in groups of 24 and woven into the final product. The effort cost more than half a million dollars (and not one thread broke in the process). The duo at the head of this project are Simon Peers, a British art historian and textile expert who has lived in Madagascar for two decades and Nicholas Godley, an American fashion designer.

The scarf will be on display at the American Museum of Natural History starting September 24th for six months in the Grand Gallery.

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