The silk industry is being rewound

Material has a context. In addition to a cultural-historical analysis, we are developing a scenario of what fair silk production could look like in our climate zone.
This has resulted in the concept of decentralised silk production: Native and endangered silk moths are reared on a small scale e.g. in schools and then released. The cocoons are collected centrally and processed into medical products due to their wound-healing properties, and the rearing process is accompanied by a continuous calendar. Each month is supplemented by a chapter with a wide range of information on the subject of silk.

student:Yara Planer & Malin Trepel

The Insect Project
– Resilience Part I

The global silk industry faces various challenges: Although the mulberry moth Bombyx mori has been bred for maximum silk production for around 5,000 years, silk production is still quite costly. Intensive breeding for an extremely long (up to 4,000 metres) and blossom-white silk filament, has turned the supposed ancestor Bombyx mandarina into a high-performance animal that is no longer able to survive without human help. Bombyx mori is the pug among moths.
In addition, the silkworm moth specialises in only one food source: the leaves of the white mulberry tree Morus alba. This creates a great dependency and favours monocultural plantations. To prevent the moth from destroying the continuous filament when it hatches, the freshly pupated caterpillars are boiled in their cocoon and the silk is unwound.
We have traced the cultural history of silk and analysed the context of silk at different times and in different cultures. We also asked ourselves: How can silk be produced in the future? Will (animal) silk still be needed at all?

As a possible answer, we have designed a scenario of how silk can be produced in an accessible way using regional (Central/Northern Europe) silk spinners. Our protagonists are the small and the Viennese peacock moth. Because the caterpillars spin a cage into the cocoon, no killing is necessary.
From a central location, such as a botanical garden or nature conservation organisation, the eggs are sent to individuals or educational institutions in a rearing box, where the caterpillars are reared. Once the moths have hatched and been released, the cocoons are donated to central collection centres. There, medical products are made from the cocoons due to the wound-healing properties of the silk. These are particularly gentle for use in the human body due to their biocompatibility.
The enclosed annual calendar contains rearing instructions and enough space to document important events during the process. Each month is supplemented by a chapter with the results of our research on the subject of silk.