Thousands of spiders, that’s what it would take to produce the amount of silk that I needed for this project. Thousands of territorial and cannibalistic spiders to be more precise. Managing silk extraction directly from spiders was not exactly the task I had in mind, but not impossible.
Luckily for me I found this article in Science about Randy Lewis and his team who are now working at the Utah State University. The article was about how they succeeded in isolating the spidersilk producing genes of two spiders and embedded them in the genome of a goat. Creating a goat that produces in addition to her normal milk also significant quantities of the spidersilk protein. He also made a press release more recently that he pulled off the same trick with transgenic silkworms, who now produce spidersilk instead of normal silk.
With this knowledge in mind I decided to submit my proposal for a bulletproof skin made of spidersilk for DA4GA. To back it up I contacted Dr. Randy Lewis with the question what his thoughts were about embedding the spidersilk in skin tissue and if he would be willing to donate some of his scarce silk for the purpose of art.
The answer was positive in both cases, and the ignorant me thought that I was already half there, not realising the enormous task that lay before me: processing this transgenic spidersilk into the textile I needed.
Additional Information: More information about the places the silk has been and the problems I faced can be found below on the additional pages.
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