Golden Orb Spiders spin a Gossamer cloth

 

Orb Spider spun cloth

Orb Spider spun cloth

On Thursday September 24, after 4 years, a gold colored textile piece  11 feet long  x 4 feet wide, of spun spider silk went on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It will exhibit on loan for 6 months in the Grand gallery.

More than a million wild Orb  spiders from Madagascar produced this cloth by extruding 2.6 pounds of gold color silk. 14,000 spiders are needed to produce an ounce of silk. “This is the only large piece of cloth made entirely from natural spider silk existing in the world today.”* Nicholas Godley (American fashion designer) and Simon Peers (textile expert) co-led the project.

Golden Orb Spiders of Madagascar

Golden Orb Spiders of Madagascar

These spiders are hard to raise in captivity. They have a nasty habit of biting their neighbors heads off. They don’t want to work in the winter and only make silk during the rainy season. The females being larger, can grow to about the size of a small adult human hand, with hairy stiletto legs. Only the females produce silk. Some spider’s thread was as long as 400 yards.

24 silk threads were hand spun into one and then joined into 96-thread strands that became the warp of the textile. The cloth was woven in a traditional brocaded Malagasy motif by local women.

I hope to get to this exhibit because I am curious. As cute as these spiders look, and as beautiful as the cloth is, I have no plans to fill out an employment application when they start hiring women next rainy season. If any of you are in the NY area and get to see the exhibit let me hear your thoughts.

*More information check out Wired magazine, New York Times.

Photo 1    AMNH/R. Mickens silk piece

Photo 2   spider orb picture by Simon Peers

A Spinning Spider floating on Gossamer wings

SpiderWeb2

Spider silk, is a very lightweight protein fiber, also known as gossamer. The silk is very strong and can handle a stress load superior to that of high-grade steel, before it breaks.  I am currently working on a post about cloth that was spun by spiders for later this week. Be prepared to be amazed.