Silk is a natural protein fiber , some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The protein fiber of silk is composed mainly of fibroin and is produced by certain insect larvae to form cocoons. The shimmering appearance of silk is due to the triangular prism -like structure of the silk fibre, which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles , thus producing different colors. Silk is produced by several insects; but, generally, only the silk of moth caterpillars has been used for textile manufacturing. There has been some research into other types of silk, which differ at the molecular level. Several kinds of wild silk , produced by caterpillars other than the mulberry silkworm, have been known and spun in China , South Asia , and Europe since ancient times.
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Silk has set the standard in luxury fabrics for several millennia. The origins of silk date back to Ancient China. Legend has it that a Chinese princess was sipping tea in her garden when a cocoon fell into her cup, and the hot tea loosened the long strand of silk.
Ancient literature, however, attributes the popularization of silk to the Chinese Empress Si-Ling, to around B. Called the Goddess of the Silkworm, Si-Ling apparently raised silkworms and designed a loom for making silk fabrics.
The Chinese used silk fabrics for arts and decorations as well as for clothing. Silk became an integral part of the Chinese economy and an important means of exchange for trading with neighboring countries. Caravans traded the prized silk fabrics along the famed Silk Road into the Near East. By the fourth century B. The popularity of silk was influenced by Christian prelates who donned the rich fabrics and adorned their altars with them.
Gradually the nobility began to have their own clothing fashioned from silk fabrics as well. Initially, the Chinese were highly protective of their secret to making silk. Indeed, the reigning powers decreed death by torture to anyone who divulged the secret of the silk-worm. Eventually, the mystery of the silk-making process was smuggled into neighboring regions, reaching Japan about A. By the eighth century, Spain began producing silk, and years later Italy became quite successful at making silk, with several towns giving their names to particular types of silk.
The first country to apply scientific techniques to raising silkworms was Japan, which produces some of the world's finest silk fabrics. Silk is highly valued because it possesses many excellent properties. Not only does it look lustrous and feel luxurious, but it is also lightweight, resilient, and extremely strong—one filament of silk is stronger then a comparable filament of steel! Although fabric manufacturers have created less costly alternatives to silk, such as nylon and polyester, silk is still in a class by itself.
The secret to silk production is the tiny creature known as the silkworm, which is the caterpillar of the silk moth Bombyx mori. It feeds solely on the leaves of mulberry trees. Only one other species of moth, the Antheraea mylitta, also produces silk fiber. This is a wild creature, and its silk filament is about three times heavier than that of the cultivated silkworm. Its coarser fiber is called tussah. The life cycle of the Bombyx mori begins with eggs laid by the adult moth.
The larvae emerge from the eggs and feed on mulberry leaves. In the larval stage, the Bombyx is the caterpillar known as the silkworm.
The silkworm spins a protective cocoon around itself so it can safely transform into a The secret to silk production is the tiny creature known as the silk-worm, which is the caterpillar of the silk moth Bombyx mori. In nature, the chrysalis breaks through the cocoon and emerges as a moth. The moths mate and the female lays to eggs. A few days after emerging from the cocoon, the moths die and the life cycle continues.
The cultivation of silkworms for the purpose of producing silk is called sericulture. Over the centuries, sericulture has been developed and refined to a precise science. Sericulture involves raising healthy eggs through the chrysalis stage when the worm is encased in its silky cocoon. The chrysalis inside is destroyed before it can break out of the cocoon so that the precious silk filament remains intact. The healthiest moths are selected for breeding, and they are allowed to reach maturity, mate, and produce more eggs.
Generally, one cocoon produces between 1, and 2, feet of silk filament, made essentially of two elements. Other elements include fats, salts, and wax.
To make one yard of silk material, about 3, cocoons are used. Not all of the silk filament is usable for reeled silk. The leftover silk may include the brushed ends or broken cocoons. This shorter staple silk may be used for spinning silk in a manner of fabrics like cotton and linen.
The quality of spun silk is slightly inferior to reeled silk in that it is a bit weaker and it tends to become fuzzy. The waste material from the spun silk can also be used for making "waste silk" or "silk noil. Sericulture is an ancient science, and the modern age has not brought great changes to silk manufacture.
Rather, man-made fibers such as polyester, nylon, and acetate have replaced silk in many instances. But many of the qualities of silk cannot be reproduced.
For example, silk is stronger than an equivalent strand of steel. Some recent research has focused on the molecular structure of silk as it emerges from the silkworm, in order to better understand how new, stronger artificial fibers might be constructed.
Silk spun by the silkworm starts out as a liquid secretion. The liquid passes through a brief interim state with a semi-ordered molecular structure known as nematic liquid crystal, before it solidifies into a fiber. Materials scientists have been able to manufacture durable fibers using liquid crystal source material, but only at high temperatures or under extreme pressure. Researcher are continuing to study the silkworm to determine how liquid crystal is transformed into fiber at ordinary temperatures and pressures.
Corbman, Bernard P. Textiles: Fiber to Fabric. McGraw-Hill, Deshpande, Chris. Garrett Educational Corporation, Parker, Julie. Rain City Publishing, Scott, Philippa. The Book of Silk. Ostroff, Jim. Yanxi, Wang. Toggle navigation. Made How Volume 2 Silk Silk. The secret to silk production is the tiny creature known as the silk-worm, which is the caterpillar of the silk moth Bombyx mori. Periodicals "Chinese Exports of Silk Textiles. Other articles you might like:. Follow City-Data.
Tweets by LechMazur. Also read article about Silk from Wikipedia. User Contributions: 1. There is no explanation here if tussah silk is stronger or more durable than domesticated silk. Are the domesticated silk worms burned or boiled along with their products? Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: Name:.
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Silk is one of the most luxurious types of fabric used in the fashion industry and also in products for the home. You can find it in cushions, pillow and duvet covers, bedspreads, lampshades and others. According to a Chinese legend, it was discovered by an empress who was sipping her tea under a mulberry tree when a cocoon fell into her cup and began to open up to reveal the shiny fibres. There is no doubt that silk is a beautiful material. It keeps you cooler when the weather is warm and warmer the the weather is cool.
The textile process
The production of the silk used by man is carried out by a little animal, the silkworm. Silkworms spin themselves into their precious filaments, forming a cocoon. These filaments are then unwound from the cocoon by dint of painstaking work and twisted to form the silk thread. The secrecy surrounding the production of this much sought-after silk fabric has played an important role in history. The Chinese held the monopoly of it for a long time. They were already exporting this luxury product along the Silk Road to Europe before the birth of Christ.
How is silk made? A step by step guide
By creating an account with our store, you will be able to move through the checkout process faster, store multiple addresses, view and track your orders in your account, and more. Ever turned a garment inside out and not really understood what type of fabric it is made of? Here we will over time go through the most commonly used fabrics and materials within our industry, the process they go through to become finish products, what qualities they have and the footprint they leave on our planet. Second out in our Material school is Silk! To read our first post click here.
Sudbury is a major silk manufacturing centre with five local firms involved in the production of a wide range of quality fabrics. However, silk manufacture has been established here a mere years or so, whilst textile manufacturing has been established in the town since at least the 14 th century. When demand for the heavy woollen broadcloth declined in the 16 th century the weavers of Sudbury turned to producing lighter fabrics — bays, says, crepes and cotton bunting — in the 18 th century much of the bunting was supplied to the Royal Navy for flags. Silk making began in China but by the late Middle Ages the knowledge had been brought back to Europe where France and Italy became the leading producers. In King James I made an effort to stimulate silk making in England by encouraging the planting of mulberry trees, knowing that silkworms fed on the leaves. Unfortunately his knowledge did not include the fact that it fed on the leaves of the white mulberry, not the black variety which his government was supplying for planting, and the attempt proved abortive. In the Catholic king of France, Louis XIV, revoked the Edict of Nantes which guaranteed the religious and civic rights of Huguenots — his subjects who followed the Protestant faith.
Is silk sustainable?
Silk, one of the oldest fibers known to man, originated in China. The history of silk is both enchanting and illustrious. The following sections cover the various facets of silk history. According to well-established Chinese legend, Empress Hsi Ling Shi, wife of Emperor Huang Ti also called the Yellow Emperor , was the first person to accidentally discover silk as weavable fiber.
Silk dates back thousands of years, and still to this day is highly regarded as one of the most valuable, luxurious fabric. Even after all of those years, little has changed in the way silk is produced. Despite advances in production method technologies, silk production still very much remains a labour intensive process, and a lot of hard work is involved. These incredible silkworms produce one of the most highly sought after materials with a plethora of excellent properties. This is the term used to describe the process of gathering the silkworms and harvesting the cocoon to collect the materials. Female silkmoths lay anything from around — eggs at any one time. These eggs eventually hatch to form silkworms, which are incubated in a controlled environment until they hatch into larvae caterpillars. The silkworms feed continually on a huge amount of mulberry leaves to encourage growth. It takes around 6 weeks to grow to their full potential about 3 inches. Attached to a secure frame or tree, the silkworm will begin spinning its silk cocoon by rotating its body in a figure-8 movement around , times — a process which takes around 3 to 8 days.
Material school - Silk
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The secret of silk
Silk has set the standard in luxury fabrics for several millennia. The origins of silk date back to Ancient China. Legend has it that a Chinese princess was sipping tea in her garden when a cocoon fell into her cup, and the hot tea loosened the long strand of silk. Ancient literature, however, attributes the popularization of silk to the Chinese Empress Si-Ling, to around B. Called the Goddess of the Silkworm, Si-Ling apparently raised silkworms and designed a loom for making silk fabrics. The Chinese used silk fabrics for arts and decorations as well as for clothing. Silk became an integral part of the Chinese economy and an important means of exchange for trading with neighboring countries. Caravans traded the prized silk fabrics along the famed Silk Road into the Near East.
Introductory Chapter: Textile Manufacturing Processes
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Hong Kong garment firm launches organic silk venture
Silk has set the standard in luxury fabrics for several millennia. Silk is highly valued because it possesses many excellent properties. Not only does it look lustrous and feel luxurious, but it is also lightweight, resilient, and extremely strong— the strongest natural fiber known to man, one filament of silk is stronger then a comparable filament of steel!
Smriti Zubin Irani launching several projects in North East through video link. Smriti Zubin Irani inaugurated Muga silk seed production centre in Tura, Meghalaya, silk printing and processing unit in Agartala, Tripura, Eri spun silk mill in Sangaipat, Imphal and development of sericulture in Mamit, Mizoram.
Read more. All textiles are made up of fibres that are arranged in different ways to create the desired strength, durability, appearance and texture. The fibres can be of countless origins, but can be grouped into four main categories. Natural fibres, with the exception of silk, have a relatively short fibre length, measured in centimetres.