Silk Fabrication Technique

Silk Fabrication Technique

The traditional method of natural silk fabrication is from SilkWorms

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The long process of silk fabrication starts from the silk worm cocoons.

The cocoons are dropped in huge basin of boiling water, and beaten with a long stick this operation is the first step in the silk‑mill.

Strips stem out of the cocoons, then introduced through a nick, forming in this manner a thread, which is formed by 45 to 60 cocoons.

The thread is winded around a little bobbin and conveyed to the drum, activated by hand. Consequently, we obtain a skein of silk. It measures 20 km.

In boiling soaped water, a solution of ashes is added, in order to soften damaged cocoons. Ash solution makes natural silk more brilliant. After drying these cocoons, women take the duvet to wind it on the distaff. The silk is then rolled around a reed winder, to form a spun silky skein.

The silky skein is winded, by a spinning‑wheel, on a stick, put into the weaver's shuttle. Weaving is then started on a hand loom, moved by 2 or 4 pedals.

1) The Winder (Mostly a Woman)

The artisan put the silky skein on the support, which contains 4 vertical reed sides, with a stone base. She winds the skein on a reed winder of conic form, with 8 sides around a fixed axis, planted in the ground supporting the device. She keeps turning the axis by hand ; so the silk is reeled around the cone.

2) The Throwster

The throwster immerses the winded silky skein in cold water during 12 hours. Then, he winds it around cones of reed. He takes one thread from each cone and winds them on sticks fixed on a spool, moved by a wooden spinning‑wheel itself moved by hand.

The thread is so doubled. The throuwster fixes the sticks on the spool, in order to twist the double thread to make it stronger.

3) The Warper

One hundred bobbins are put on the ground. The threads are attached to a wooden frame, crossing a metallic comb. 50 threads are attached in the upper part of the warping device, and another 50 threads are attached in the inferior part. The warping device is composed of 4 wooden bars, revolving around a fixed axis. Threads are winding around the bars. following the movement of the warping device. The complete tour of the warping device measures 7 meters and 82 cm.

4) The Dyer

The dyer washes out all sediments accumulated on the row silk. This operation consists of immersing the silky skein in soaped boiling water, containing caustic soda or kali, during two hours or more. Then, the silk is immersed again in pure water ; the silky threads become smooth and bright. At this stage, the silky skein would have lost 25% its weight. Afterwards it is dyed. This operation is still manual in Damascus, Horns and Aleppo.

5) The Dresser and the Verificator

The dresser immerses the silky skein in a basin of cold water containing starch and glue of almond, to strengthen the threads.

At dawn, the verificator stretches, on rakes, 60 in. of threads, longing a wall in open air; walking to and fro to finish the whole ball ; trying to separate threads to avoid entangling.

6) Leasing Operation

The artisan (leaser) attaches the warp to a warp‑rail, attached itself to 4 pedals of the loom, pushing up the warp by the pulling rope in order to permit the entrance of the weaver's shuttle through the warps.

The Reference Rim M. al-Attrache, La soie en Syrie : (le Sandjak d'Alexandrette, la Syrie et le Liban), Damas (Syrie).


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