Fashion and history enthusiast Nicholas Godley has teamed up with British art and textiles expert Simon Peers to create a seven-year project to produce a golden spider silk cape. The project took place in Madagascar and involved milking 1.2 million spiders, a feat that required a team of 80 people.
The spiders used in the project were Golden Orb spiders, which are the only ones capable of producing silk. Using long poles to collect female spiders, the team scaled up tools for harvesting the silk, which was then used to create the cape.
The project was not without its challenges, as Golden Orb spiders are cannibalistic and would eat each other if kept together. To overcome this issue, the team had to keep them apart. They also had to work around the spiders’ poisonous bites, which presented a challenge for arachnophobe Godley.
The finished product was unveiled in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2012. The cape is said to be so weightless that people couldn’t tell they were holding it. It is also described as having a mystical, ephemeral quality, just like a spider’s web, but with a permanence that has been harnessed into something lasting.
However, the cape is not practical for everyday use, as it is a natural fiber that shrinks and cannot be washed or dry-cleaned. Additionally, it is costly to produce, making it difficult to price.
Despite the challenges, the project was a success, and the finished product is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the team behind it. It is also a reminder of the incredible abilities of spiders and the potential that their silk holds for the fashion industry.