Spider silk tapestry  NOV 19 2009

The American Museum of Natural History is displaying a 11'x4' tapestry made completely of spider silk. It took four years, required more than one million spiders, and cost $500,000 to make.

The task of silking a spider starts with a small machine -- designed centuries ago when the first attempts to silk spiders were begun -- that holds the spider down.

"The spiders are harnessed ... held down in a delicate way," Godley says, "so you need people to do this who are very tactile so the spiders are not harmed. So there's a chain of about 80 people who go out every morning at four o'clock, collect spiders, we get them in by 10 o'clock. They're in boxes, they're numbered, and then as they get silked, about 20 minutes later, they get released back into nature."

Spider silk tapestry

The vivid yellow is the natural color of the spider's silk. If you can't make it to see the exhibition at the AMNH, check out a video featuring the tapestry. (thx, renee)

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