Never one to not want a new challenge, I am writing for Kindle and my first book is out now, The Creepy Crawly Kids Spider Book.

You may think this first one is a strange subject, but I promise you that you will find it fascinating, even if you squirm a little. It’s all about spiders, their habits, their lives and their legends. Hope you enjoy it as much I enjoyed creating it, due to my life long fascination of these 8 legged creatures. Later, my ‘Bad Girl’ series will be out there and hopefully you will love these too. 

Here is a little story to tempt you into the world of spiders; this is quite amazing!

The Spider Shawl

Spider Silk Shawl

Spider Silk Shawl

Art historian Simon Peers and his American business partner Nicholas Godley decided to create the largest piece of woven fabric made entirely from the silk extracted from spiders… but not just any spider.

Spider silk from the Golden Orb Spiders found only in Madagascar, is renowned for its vibrant color and strength. The silk is only produced by the female Golden Orb Spider, and fortunately she is not venomous. This species of spider is quite large, with a white, yellow and black back, so easy to spot for collection.

 

Golden Orb Spiders - Jo Tempest

Golden Orb Spiders

Around 70 people went out daily to collect these spiders from their webs on the nearby telephone wires.

Then it was the job of another dozen people to draw the silk from the spider using special hand-powered machines. Unfortunately a few spiders did die in the process but a system was set up so that the spiders being used were then released later in the day.

 

Golden Spider Silk Bobbins

Golden Spider Silk Bobbins

Nearly a million Golden Orb Spiders donated their silk to the project, and on average, 23,000 spiders can produce just one ounce of silk, so you can see why they needed to use a million of them!

 As the silk was produced, 24 single strands at a time were twisted by hand into a single strand. These were then twisted again with another 3 of the multiple strands to create the silk thread.

In the 1890’s, local Madagascan fishermen used the spider silk to make nets and lines as it was found that for its weight, it was stronger than steel. But the design used for the fabric originated from 19th century stories of a local French colonial administrator’s attempt to spin cloth from silken Orb spiders.

Spider Silk Shawl Weaving

Spider Silk Shawl Weaving

 

Spider Silk Shawl Detail

Spider Silk Shawl Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The created shawl features traditional Malagasy flower and bird motifs and is quite spectacular.

It measures an astonishing 11 by 4 feet in size, and it took Simon and Nicholas over four years to finish their project, using centuries old weaving techniques. The silk has not been treated or colored in any way and is completely natural.

 The shawl is now on display in the ‘American Museum of Natural History’ in New York City, USA. I am sure it is well worth a visit to see this magnificent accomplishment!

If this story intrigued you, then click on the link below to see my book which is loaded with photos and facts you never knew about spiders.

The Creepy Crawly Kids Spider Book

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!