Friday 2 December 2016

Spider silk cape goes on display

Published 23/01/2012 | 19:28

A cape made from the golden silk of 1.2 million spiders
A cape made from the golden silk of 1.2 million spiders

A cape created from golden silk spun by more than a million spiders is going on display this week.

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The hand-woven garment is being shown at London's Victoria and Albert Museum alongside the Golden Spider Silk, a four-metre long piece of brocaded fabric. It took more than four years to make the items from the silk of 1.2 million female golden orb spiders, native to Madagascar.

They have been made by Englishman Simon Peers, who lives in Madagascar, and American Nicholas Godley, and are the only large textiles in the world to have been made from spider silk.

Mr Peers said: "We were keen to show the spider silk textiles at the V&A, being the most appropriate place to premiere this work in Europe.

"The unique and historic costume and textile collections have been a constant source of inspiration over the years. As far as we know the V&A has never before shown anything made from spider silk, despite its diverse collections of art and decorative arts.

"So we are pleased and very proud to be adding a first to a museum with such a rich, long and illustrious history, and would like to think that we in turn can be an inspiration to others."

Spiders are collected every morning before silk is extracted from them by trained handlers. They are not harmed in the process and are returned to the wild at the end of each day.

The last known spider silk textile was made for an exhibition in Paris in 1900 but no examples remain.

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