Gossamer Silk, From Spiders Spun
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September 22, 2009: A British historian and an American fashion designer have cooperated in Madagascar to produce spider silk from the webs of the golden orb spider, which is renowned for its saffron color and high tensile strength. This is difficult, as the females (which produce the silk) are notoriously cannibalistic, and they refuse to produce any silk during the winter. Furthermore, many natives of Madagascar are tempted to steal the spiders, which they consider to be good food. The female spiders are collected from the countryside and put into harnesses from which their silk is spun - sometimes reaching a length of 400 yards before the spider was exhausted.

So far, they have produced an 11 foot piece of cloth with a brilliantly golden color - the first such recorded textile which cost more than half a million dollars to make. However, rumors and tales about textiles made from spider silk have existed for a long time, often imbuing the textiles with occult or alchemical properties.

The first documented attempt was made by the Frenchman Fran├žois Xavier Bon de Saint Hilaire, who wrote a treatise on the subject in 1710 and made enough silk from spider cocoons to produce stockings and gloves, as well as allegedly an entire suit of clothing for Louis XIV. Another attempt was made in Madagascar in the late 1890s by a French technical-school official who harvested the silk directly from the spiders. He allegedly produced enough silk for bed hangings to be displayed in Paris in 1900, although those hangings no longer exist.



Game and Story Use

  • Spider silk textiles could make for a great MacGuffin to chase after - it is utterly rare and valuable.
  • The spider silk could indeed have alchemical properties - or it could be enchanted into a magic item.
    • Both the new cloth and the historical items could have gained mystical powers or energy which could be used in rituals.
    • The naturally golden color of golden orb spider silk might give the cloth additional mystical associations.
  • In the future, genetically modified spiders could be created to make spider silk production more effective and cheaper.
    • And of course, these spiders could get lose thanks to an accident, threatening the countryside - especially if they are poisonous.
      • And we all knows what happens when someone gets bitten by a genetically modified spider, don't we?
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