The world’s largest spider silk garment is on display for the first time at the Victoria & Albert museum. Spider silk is one of those ultra-exotic luxuries that crops up from time to time in fantasies, often imbued with magical powers. A spider silk cape, one can imagine, might come with Spidey powers: keen senses, near-invisibility, the ability to leap from building to building. It’s so easy to throw spider silk into the economy of one’s fantasy world, along with heart-sized rubies and mollusk-made purple dye.
However, this article shows that some things are too rare and too labor-intensive to be more than one-time novelties:
To create the cape, British art historian Simon Peers and his American business partner Nicholas Godley spent five years collecting and harnessing over 1 million spiders in special “silking” contraptions to extract their threads, 24 critters at a time.
On average, 23,000 spiders yield roughly 1 ounce of silk, making the process intensely laborious and time-consuming. It’s not hyperbole then to claim that the textiles are among the world’s most rare and precious objects—liquid gold, if you will.
Unless, of course, you have a high-tech world where they’ve figured out how to manufacture artificial spider silk.
Or they have really really big arachnids.
“Spider hunter” on that world might be an um… interesting job!
I would love to touch spider silk cloth, though. Just to see how it feels.
What about you? What rare or one-of-kind item would you like to see in person or hold in your hand for a few minutes?