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Published: 05 September 2015

By Andy Ross

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Sea silk

There has been a very interesting article on BBC News this week and many of our readers have sent it as a link. Thank you all for this fascinating insight into a unique and unusual craft.

Byssus gold Byssus goldChiara Vigo is the last person in the world to gather threads and weave a cloth made from solidified saliva produced by a clam, Pinna Nobilis. Every Spring, Chiara dives and harvests the threads which the clam uses to anchor itself to rocks.  (I presume rather like mussels do?) She then weaves cloth and works with lemon juice and spices to create a cloth which apparently shines and glows.

The BBC article is here but the story is so fascinating that we did some more digging around. Wikipedia has a picture of the threads that the clam secretes and the accompanying article is here. There is even a Project Sea Silk based in Switzerland where an inventory of articles is curated. (The picture on this page comes from their website.) Given the extraordinary difficulty of gathering the threads and the amount of work that goes into making something like sea silk, it makes you marvel about the curiosity of the first person to think about making cloth from such a unique source. 

Thank you, enquiring readers. You have made us very happy!