Ever wonder how to tell if the silk you have is real or not? No? Me neither, until my time in Thailand. Every day I’ve been hearing, “it’s Thai Silk, it’s Thai Silk,” and I’m not one to judge but I had no way of really knowing. Today, on a lovely 800 baht “rent a driver for a day” tour we stopped in the Silk Factory in Chiang Mai. (Among other places which is soon to come!) This is where Neil and I had a mini lesson on Thai Silk. Ahem… it starts like this:
1. The production of silk begins with a tiny worm known as Bombyx Mori: Silk Moth. The moth lays eggs, which develop into silk worms. The worms are fed on mulberry leaves until they are one month old. Then they build a cocoon from their spittle.
2. The cocoon is put into boiling water, and the silk thread is then extracted. The length of silk thread in a cocoon varies from 500 to 1,500 yards. This depends on the king of worm that is producing the thread. In Thailand, most silk thread is hand-reeled by women. The filaments from several cocoons get reeled together on a wooden spindle to form a uniform strong of raw silk.
3. This is a time consuming process. It takes roughly 40 hours to reel 1.5 kgs of silk. The process can be simplified by using a reeling machine. The majority is still using the traditional method which produces three grades of silk: two fine ones suitable for lightweight fabric and a thicker one for heavier material.
4. The skins of silk thread are then soaked in hot water to remove the remainder of the saracen Since Thai silk is yellow, it must be bleached before drying. This is done by immersing the skins in a large tub of hydrogen peroxide, after which they are washed and dried in the sun.
5. Thai Silk is then woven on a handloom, the threads that pass across are inserted during the weaving process. Thai Silk is hand-woven fabric, which means that although it conforms to set standards of width, color, and quality, it still retains a degree of individuality impossible to achieve by more advanced technology.
6. One way to tell if it is real silk is to burn it. It should smell natural. Not like chemicals being burnt (a.k.a. Polyester which has a chemical burning smell). I also noticed that Thai Silk shines multiple colors in the light. Synthetics really only shine white!
Thank you Thai Silk Factory for your wealth of knowledge! I had to buy some of the lovely products of Thai Silk.