May 28, 2012

Monday's Lesson: Silk 101

I feel as though my Monday Lesson 101’s are a little few and far between so to get back into the swing of it, tonight is a big one on my favourite raw material, silk!
I don’t know if I was sick or just don’t remember the week at school that I think every kid is meant to have, where you go in search of a mulberry tree, steal the leaves and shove them in a box with some worms and that is supposed to teach you about evolution and the making of silk? It doesn’t resinate with me so I thought we should start right from the beginning just in case you missed that week in primary school too!
Silkworm Eating Trays
Silkworms seperated ready to make their cocoon. 
Silkworm cocoons.
Cocoons are boiled to soften the thread and remove the gum like mucus as well as kill the remaining worm/moth. 
The softened cocoons are then pulled into a twine.
The twine is then cleaned and bleached ready for dying.
Spinning wheels are used to pull the silk twine thinner into a shinny thread ready for weaving.
  Silk bobbins.
Silk being woven onto the loom.
Weaving process. All silk making images courtesy of

It’s a long process with supposedly very simple beginnings. Supposedly discovered in 3000 BC by the Chinese empress Hsi Ling Shi who when one day enjoying her tea under a Mulberry tree had a cocoon fall into her cup, noticed that the cocoon unwound with the heat, and upon pulling the cocoon out of the cup noticed it formed a thread, the rest is history!
Thought to be a delicate fibre due to its origins, silk is surprisingly strong and can be used in upholstery, accessories and drapery. Used as a plain fabric or as a base cloth for delicate embroidery or printing or as a thread to make silk velvet [the most sensational, luminous, fragile velvet], silk provides an interesting textural addition to interiors due to its slubs [a natural characteristic caused by the joining of the threads]. An important note to remember through is that direct sunlight will deteriorate silk thread so always consider lining silk drapes and using in areas that are not flooded by natural light.
Stunning striped silk upholstery on what looks to be feather/fibre fill cushion, good choice!

Farfalla Silk
Nina Campbell Farfalla Embroidered Silk

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The most stunning navy raw silk drapes, I love the volume!
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Again all that volume, silk drapes almost have a crunch to them.

Lorca Painted Silk Radjada

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Super cute silk upholstered occasional chair, see the slubs and the natural colour variation.

Designers Guild NEW Jacaranda painted Silk in colour Willow

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Absolutely stunning bedroom, the wallaper and that bamboo steel bedframe! Love the complement in the coral pink silk bedspread and cushions.

Designers Guild NEW Mararhi painted silk in colour Ocean.

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There is that crunch again!
And just to add to your appreciation of silk the last little tid bit, each cocoon can produce anywhere from 300-900 meters of thread, each cocoon!

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