Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Silk Factory

I did not expect to like the silk factory. I had absolutely no interest in it, and half-heartedly wandered through the first two rooms with museum-like displays of ornate emperor’s robes. But then we got to the wall display of silk worms, and then to the weaving machines with silk pods and I was hooked. It was fascinating.

I touched one of the silk pods. It was oddly hollow and fragile, which surprised me since it looks like a pellet and seems like it would be dense. But the pod easily comes apart as demonstrated by the silk worker who showed us that they put a dozen pods in a bowl with water and then brush them in a circle. Magically, the silk strands attach to the brush. She pulled it up and we felt the singular threads of silk.
Once the pod is loosened, they take it over to a horseshoe-shaped loom and pull the pod threads over it. It breaks apart on its skein like a spider’s web. Of course, there are large gaping holes, so they spread another pod over that one onto the loom. Then another, and another. They use about a dozen before transferring and stretching it onto a larger loom. The threads attach together and make a dense material, almost like fiberglass insulation consistency.
From there we moved into the next room where a makeshift bed was set up. We took the roughly 12 x 15” mat of silk from the loom and then all grabbed a side or corner and pulled, just like in elementary gym class when we had to open up a parachute. The silk stretched across the bed and we could see the layers of its consistency. It was really neat.
From there we moved on to feeling silk pillows and comforters and what-not. The sales pitches began. They had rooms full of silk duvets and pillowcases. Then a room with mannequins and yards of silk with a large sign hanging from the ceiling:    WE CAN TAILOR-MAKE FOR YOU IN ONE HOUR
Believe it or not, I walked away without making a purchase. They missed a sales opportunity by only offering the finished product. I wanted the silk pods.

The finished product:


  1. Ooo, selling the pods would be very smart. Although I wonder how many products a single pod can make -- or how many pods they need to make a single product? (In other words, how valuable is one?)

  2. It takes a lot of pods to make anything. Judging by Chinese prices, pods shouldn't cost much. Though what I'd do with a little silk pod is anyone's guess.