Though it's one day late, this post is in the spirit of Halloween, mostly because I'm beyond terrified of spiders and can barely look at the image above...but I'm sharing it here because it relates to an amazing craft.
On a recent visit to the American Museum of Natural History I viewed the textile below, which was painstakingly woven from the silk of the female golden orb spiders, native to Madagascar. The textile's design is based on a local weaving tradition that is normally done with silk (silkworm) threads. This single textile was made from the silk of more than 1,000,000 spiders. You can read more about it, and watch a video here on the American Museum of Natural History's website. Apparently, spider silk is stronger than steel, (amazing!) and and is elastic enough to stretch 40 percent of its original length. Another noteworthy fact, these spiders are problematically cannibalistic when in captivity, making things all the more challenging. Oh no—not scary at all. And finally, the silk was individually harvested by local craftswomen, who pull the thread from each spider by hand and then place it in a special harness. Again, no big deal. Just harnessing up some giant spiders! You can read a description here. The process used to weave the textile truly is fascinating, so take a look.
Images courtesy of Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley / The American Museum of Natural History.