Photo via American Museum of Natural History
Silk tapestries. You think of worms being farmed for the material, but not necessarily spiders. Yet spider silk is a super strong and beautiful material. One company based in Madagascar, however, shows that it's tough but possible to amass enough spider silk to make an incredible tapestry. Over 1 million spiders collected by over 70 people were hooked up to hand-powered machines where people drew the silk from the spiders. After four years of work on everyone's part, they created this golden piece of weaving. Click through to see a video explaining more about the tapestry and how it was created. According to the American Museum of Natural History, the silk fiber comes from the female golden orb spider, renowned for the lustrous golden hue of its silk fiber, collected during the rainy season when they produce silk.
"Almost all silk fabric is made from silkworm moth cocoons, but people have occasionally tried to make cloth from spider silk. One of the biggest challenges is the cannibalistic nature of spiders, which makes it very difficult to raise them in captivity, unlike silkworms. Spiders can be collected in the wild and then placed in a device to keep them still so the silk can be drawn. Afterwards, the spiders are released back into the wild."
It is a lot of effort to put into creating one tapestry - let alone a lot of spiders having to get pulled out of their habitat even if only for a short time. However, spider silk has not yet been able to be produced synthetically, and scientists are still working out how to manufacture something similar in its unique properties.