Monday, January 30, 2012

Golden Cape

Golden cape made with silk from 1 million spiders

 spider silk, golden orb spiders, eco-friendly capes, sustainable capes, Victoria & Albert Museum, U.K., United Kingdom, London, Madagascar, Nicholas Godley, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style
A cape made from the silk of 1.2m Golden Orb spiders from Madagascar will be on display at the V&A in London this month. The piece took eight years to create and uses fabric not woven in more than a century

Spider cape: Spider cape
A model displays the golden cape, made from the silk of more than a million female Golden Orb Weaver spiders collected in the highlands of Madagascar.

Spider cape: Spider cape, rear view
The hand-woven textiles are naturally golden in colour and took eight years to create. The cape was made by Simon Peers, an Englishman who has lived in Madagascar for more than 20 years and Nicholas Godley, an American who has also worked for many years in Madagascar.

Spider cape: Spider cape, full view
Inspired by 19th-century accounts and illustrations, Peers and Godley started experimenting with spider silk in 2004 to see if they could revive this forgotten art.

Spider cape: Spider cape in the gallery
To create the textiles, spiders are collected each morning and harnessed in specially conceived silking contraptions. Trained handlers extract the silk from 24 spiders at a time. The spiders are returned to the wild at the end of each day.

Spider cape: Spider cape in the gallery
It has taken 1.2m spiders to provide the silk for the brocaded textile and 80 people to collect them.

Spider cape: Detail of spider cape
After silking, the silk was taken on cones to a silk weaving workshop where skilled weavers have mastered the special tensile properties of the silk. In the cape, the main weave is of 96 strands, the lining 48 strands and a large part of the embroidery is made using unspun 24 strand silk.

Spider cape: Detail of spide cape
On average, 23,000 spiders yield around one ounce of silk. It is a highly labour-intensive undertaking, making these textiles extraordinarily rare and precious objects.

Spider cape: Golden orb spider
The Golden Orb spider similar to those used to make the spider cape.