Byssus way
Wednesday September 02nd 2015, 10:13 pm
Filed under: History,To dye for,Wildlife

The bubble wrap has disappeared, whether upward or downward in those trees I do not know. Squirrelwork!

Silly stuff aside, I want to learn how she does this. I want to understand the chemistry of all of it. If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s a BBC article here about an Italian woman who is the last person keeping alive a tradition going back to, in her family’s tradition, the days of the Biblical King Herod’s great-granddaughter: she harvests byssus, the dried saliva of a clam, and adds a mix of spices that not only dye the clam silk but make it luminous.

The clam is a protected species but so is she–the Italian coastguard overseas her dives.

She is the Antonio Stradivari of fiber artistry. No one else can quite yet create what she does. She sells nothing and gives away everything according to the needs of those around her.

The reporter did not know enough to ask her how she changed the fibers into what she does, whether she works it still wet straight out of the sea or dried like her sample, whether she pulls it wide like a cocoon of terrestrial silk–is it all one long thread?–and spins it from there, or just how her yarn comes to be from its raw material. How is it done. I want to pull up a chair and learn (I’ll take my brother Bryan, he speaks Italian).

And I can only hope all the attention doesn’t cause poaching of her beloved clams.

3 Comments so far
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I wish there had been a YouTube video showing how this fabric is harvested and woven.

Comment by Jody 09.03.15 @ 2:44 am

I loved that fact that she doesn’t sell it. The product is a gift to her and from her! I think no details were mentioned in fear of someone deciding to do it on their own and destroying that species.

Comment by Mary 09.03.15 @ 4:14 am

Very interesting

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 09.03.15 @ 7:41 am

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