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Monday, August 17, 2009

Solar Dyed Bombyx Silk Cocoons

Last week I tried something new. I solar dyed bombyx silk cocoons on the deck! I put 12 to 16 silk cocoons per jar and added some water/vinegar/Basic H then sprinkled dye powder into the jar, screwed the lid on and gently tilted the jar back and forth several times to mix the dye. I then set the jars on black rubber mats on the deck, covered them with a black plastic trash bag and left them for 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours the dye solution was almost completely exhausted and the cocoons were dyed beautifully! I rinsed the cocoons and set them out on a sweater rack dryer on the deck to dry. I think they came out awesome.

I dyed seven different colors: Turquoise, Gun Metal, Emerald Green, Pumpkin Gold, Purple, Navy Blue and Rusty Red.

For decorative display or degum them and gently pull the silk threads from the end of the cocoon to get a long length of silk thread for spinning, paper making or embellishment.

For a wonderful article on silkworms and degumming them:

http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEATbombyx.html


Information on the Silkworm:
The silkworm (Bombyx mori, Latin: "silkworm of the mulberry tree") is the larva or caterpillar of a moth in the family Bombycidae, that is very important economically as the producer of silk. It is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and no longer occurs in the wild; silk culture has been practised for at least 5,000 years in China (Goldsmith et al., 2004). A silkworm's diet consists solely of mulberry leaves. It is native to northern China.

The cocoon is made of a single continuous thread of raw silk from 300 to 900 meters (1000 to 3000 feet) long. The fibers are very fine and lustrous, about 10 micrometers (1/2500th of an inch) in diameter. About 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make a pound of silk.

If the larvae is allowed to survive after spinning its cocoon, it will make a hole in the cocoon when it exits as a moth. This would cut short the threads and ruin the silk. Instead, silkworm cocoons are boiled. The heat kills the silkworms and the water makes the cocoons easier to unravel.

These cocoons still have the silkworm larvae inside.

These beautiful solar dyed bombyx silk cocoons are available in my Etsy store. Available in each of the seven colors with six cocoons per bag or a variety pack with one of each of all seven colors and as a bag of six cocoons - three Navy blue and three Emerald Green and as a bag of seven cocoons - four Purple and three Pumpkin Gold.

17 comments:

BeadedTail said...

I don't think I've seen a cocoon before let alone any in such bright, fun colors! I enjoyed reading about the process and the info on them.

WillOaks Studio said...

This is so cool--but I'm clueless about spinning so would just love to see what folks are making with dyed raw silk? Love the dying process you've developed here.

Shinade aka Jackie said...

i love this and what a unique idea. they look like a bowl of wonderfully colored jelly beans!!

Regina said...

Brenda...they turned out beautiful. I loved all the additional information too!!!
Hugs, Regi

PJ said...

thanks for sharing the information on the silkworms. the cocoons look spectacular.

Grampy said...

Fantastic. I love to come over and see what is different each day. You do a wonderful job.

Pricilla said...

They look rather like Easter eggs...gorgeous colors!

Daisy said...

I never knew anything about making silk before!

Michelle said...

These are so cool! I have been reading your site the last few days in spite of the fact that I haven't had time to comment and it's fascinating as usual. Sorry I've been scarce.

p.s.: No it's not Coco when she was a baby - although she looked like that. That was just a photo I had. Hope you are doing well :)
Maria Michelle

Clara said...

The colors you chose are incredible. So vivid! I hope you show us what you make from the silk.

Nancy said...

They turned out amazingly vibrant. Gorgeous!

Rose Works Jewelry said...

Wow - those are gorgeous!

Nancy McCarroll - Arts, Crafts and Favorites said...

Great article on cocoons... knew nothing about it before. Nice colors!

Audrey said...

They look like easter eggs!

jude8753 said...

Beautiful colors and so eye catching. I sure wish I was creative, I'd love to see how to use them or how people unravel them, maybe I should look that up when I have time, thanks for sharing your knowledge.

One Creative Queen said...

I am a silk cocoon hoarder - I love them! These turned out SCRUMDIDDLYUMPTIOUS!! I'm seriously in love with these...and as soon as I can afford to feed us, I'm going to see if you have any left. These are a must for my (sad little) collection. (My collection may be sad and little, but I love it!)

I used an undyed cocoon with PMC a few weeks ago, and made a little half egg looking shape. It's supposed to be nest for some tiny little PMC eggs I made. I'm going to make a necklace out of them. :)

These are some of the most beautifully colored cocoons I've ever seen! You go wit yo bad self! xx

Scrabbit said...

they look tasty... but somehow I doubt it :P