Monday, 2 June 2014

How is silk made?

Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to find out how silk is actually made, and if the myth is true about silk worms.

Silk as we all know is a natural fibre, however, the making of it has remained the same for the last 4,000 years. And yes it is taken from the cocoons of larvae from the silk moth, and Bombyx mori. After which the fibres are processed, woven and dyed.

Several insects secrete a type of silk, but they are inferior to those of a silkworm, which is the larval stage of a silk moth. Many have try to reproduce a synthetic, but the results were poor and the quality vastly different to natural silk. The silk moth can be found in China, and it was them, over 4,000 years ago, that created the process to make this beautiful fabric.

Chinese silk producers have kept the origins of this highly sought after material a secret. At one time, revealing any of the process was punishable by death. Sadly, there are no longer any wild silk moths to be found, and they are kept in captivity for the sole purpose of producing silk.

Females can lay upwards of 500 eggs, which will hatch in about two weeks, turning into small caterpillars known as silkworms. The larvae s diet consists only of mulberry leaves, these are cut into small pieces and given to the larvae every few hours. It grows fast, repeatedly shedding skin until it gets to about 3 inches. The caterpillar will then pupate and start to secrete a liquid, this hardens as it comes in contact with the air.

This is made to protect the pupa and can up to three days. The secretion is one continuous thread and is of raw silk. Once done, the cocoon is put in boiling water to kill the moth before it can come out and destroy it. The cocoon is then unravelled and put on a reel.

So there you have it folks, next time you reach for that new silk suit or blouse, just remember what it takes to achieve it.

No comments:

Post a Comment