If you're planning a visit to the American Museum of Natural History this weekend, be sure to check out Spider Silk, a new textile exhibition. The strands of over one million Nephila madagascariensis spiders were collected in Madagascar over a four-year period to produce one extremely durable, lightweight, and intricately-woven piece of cloth.
The golden color to the textile is completely natural, one of seven types of silk that the spiders produce. And unlike with worms, spiders are not harmed in its collection. Each individual thread in the tapestry is composed of 96 lines of pure spider silk, and the dense, decorative brocade threads are made of up to 960!
This type of spider silk is not viable for commercial use because of how hard the raw material is to acquire. Spiders must be gathered in the fields each day, get "silked" by machine for 20 minutes, and then rereleased outdoors. But the natural properties are of the textile are desirable and completely unique. It is thin, soft, strong, lightweight, adhesive, audible (strands utter a metallic twang when plucked), colorful, and renewable.