Sunday, 7 June 2015

Apartment Blocks for Silkworms

People have been clever throughout the history of silk farming making the tools needed from what is close at hand. The silkworms eat mulberry for a month and on the last day they start looking for a place to make a cocoon. (They make the cocoon to protect themselves from being eaten and to keep warm while they transform into butterflies/moths.)

In nature they would just find somewhere on the branch to make the cocoon.

When I am doing a lot of silkworms I use these folding cardboard apartments. They were developed in Japan in the 1960s. They are very practical. They save space and the silkworms are more or less forced to make uniformed sized cocoons.

The silkworms spit silk as they walk around before finding the real estate they prefer and climbing in and making a cocoon. The frames get all dirty with old silk. Instead of using a wire brush to individually clean each compartment it is easier to make an even charcoal fire and add a few pieces of wood for flame and singe off the old silk. It is a little tricky to get the heat and flame just right so that the cardboard doesn't catch fire.

                            Old silk form last year stuck on the mabushi.
Passing the mabushi over the flames to burn off the old silk.


Setting up the mabushi with Dani.



Silkworms making cocoons today in the mabushi hanging upstairs.



Alternatives to the cardboard apartments. I made this one out of rice straw and bamboo. 

A Basket used in Laos for the same purpose.

Good old cut up toilet paper rolls serve the same function.



11 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Bryan. An interesting collection of frames. The worms certainly keep you hard at it for some time. Now to rest for a short while.

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  2. Hey Judi, It is suddenly quiet today. No mulberry to pick. Took the dogs on a long walk. I'm all aches and pains. Down time for a few months. Hope all is good with you. b

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  3. Hey Judi, It is suddenly quiet today. No mulberry to pick. Took the dogs on a long walk. I'm all aches and pains. Down time for a few months. Hope all is good with you. b

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  4. comfort living :) wondering over here if that old silk could be used. felting?

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    1. Hey Neki,
      Did you get those yuzu seeds I sent you way back? The silk on the mabushi is over half seritin. You can never really get the smell out. It is the same as silk noil.

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  5. it must be a relief to get them to this stage - all you have to do now is reel and dye. love the variety of "apartments"

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  6. Hi Jean, I have too much fine reeled silk. I think I will make silk hankies and spin it all this year. A few hours of spinning every day with some audio books....

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  7. I'll buy hankies from you. I like to dye them different colours, tear them into thin pencil roving and spin random colour blends. like I need more handspun, but it keeps me out of the pubs!

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  8. We need to open a spinning pub in Victoria Jean. Good spinning music. Good beer.

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  9. What a fabulous idea! I'd gladly move to Victoria with my spinning wheel just to partake of the convivial atmosphere of spinning, music, and beer!

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  10. Thanks for sharing Bryan. An interesting collection of frames. free jav download

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