This 13-foot-long textile was woven from silk produced by more than a million Golden Orb spiders from Madagaskar. It's currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago and moves to London's Victoria and Albert Museum in January 2012. From The Telegraph:
According to experts at the Victoria and Albert Museum, spider's silk has not been woven since 1900, when a textile was created for the Paris Exposition Universelle - but that no longer survives. This will be the first time spider silk has been exhibited in Europe since."Rare spider silk textile to come to V&A"
The earliest recorded weave using the silk of spiders dates from 1709, made by a Frenchman, Francois-Xavier Bon de Saint Hilaire, who successfully produced gloves and stockings and supposedly a full suit of clothes for King Louis XIV. Later, in the early nineteenth century, Raimondo de Termeyer, a Spaniard working in Italy, produced stockings for the Emperor Napoleon and a shawl for his first wife, Empress Josephine.
To create the textiles, spiders are collected each morning and harnessed in specially conceived ‘silking’ contraptions. Trained handlers extract the silk from 24 spiders at a time.
Unlike mulberry silk from silkworms, in which the pupa is killed in its cocoon, the spiders are returned to the wild at the end of each day.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.