Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Easiest Silk Cocoon to Thread Technique.

The easiest way to make a thread from a cocoon is to 'mostly melt' the natural glue that holds the cocoon together and just pull the cocoon into a thread. Make a pH solution of 9  from ash or slaked lime then place cocoons in a laundry bag. Submerse them in the water at 90 degrees centigrade for an hour while occasionally stirring the cocoons in the bag.

Rinse very well.  Left with a high pH the silk will  frazzle over a few hours. In other words, neutralize the silk by gently washing with warm water as soon as the cocoons have collapsed.

simplest silk thread video. 58 seconds.

Here is Elizabeth well over her initial disgust at the whole de-bugging steps.

I've been teaching Elizabeth several silk thread making techniques. The Japanese words for these are pretty obscure and hard to remember so she coins the words in English as we go along. This technique became known as the "squid technique." Easy to remember and reference.

The work is a tad gross and time consuming so we worked on a manageable  50 cocoons at a time. 
After pulling them into threads we hung them up to dry. They harden as there is still a lot of natural glue in them. Once tied together and plied they can be de-gummed properly to make them softer and shinier.

Elizabeth proved herself to be a natural at reeling high quality ten cocoon thread. Almost no slubs to be found. (There is still some snow on the ground.)

We took the fresh reeled silk to a village not far away that used to specialize in throwing silk since the Edo period. I tried to give her the rudiments of throwing (twisting or plying) in a few hours. There are a few old throwing machines at the studio that are somewhat operational.

There are some old photographs on the wall showing life in the village 90 years ago where throwing silk was the main activity thousands of worker's life centered. 

Changing the gears in the throwing machines determines how many spins per meter.

1 comment:

  1. I have been reading your two latest post and this is so interesting! Thank you for showing the whole process, I had no idea how this works before I read your blog. Beauitful photos too!