Principally felt

experiments in life, decorative felt, nuno, knit felt and mosaic

Taulignan and the French silk industry

Here we are battling with rain with summer holidays long gone. But I’ve only just retrieved some of my photographs and some are worth sharing. In memory of a lovely holiday let’s take a quick visit to my favourite village in La Drome Provençal where gentle lanes, lavender and beautiful trees characterise the peaceful Taulignan.

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Taulignan was once a home of the French silk industry.

So, when not downing an espresso or sipping creme de menthe in the Bar du Nord it was worth paying a visit to the Silk Museum, which backs onto the main square, to learn about Sericulture or silk production.

How is this wonderful fibre made?

Fed on mulberry leaves the silk worm starts tiny and soon turns into these ugly munching marauders.

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At a certain point the larvae stop munching and start to climb. And then having found a good branch they spin by rolling round and round and so creating a cocoon of mulberry silk from outside in which consists of a single continuous thread.

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Left undisturbed a moth will eventually cut a hole in the cocoon and duly emerge. However the silk industry relied on harvesting the cocoons before this cyclical event happens so as to spin off the natural silk thread in unspoilt state.

I enjoyed looking at these beautiful old machines and learning a bit more about this amazing fibre which I so love to felt into wool.

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Silk is a truly amazing fibre. It seems wondrous that these small cocoons can provide such long, lustrous and continuous fibre. And that these fine machines were designed simply to unravel such small bundles of natural fibre.

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In manufacture the single thread then goes through a process of doubling (called seconding) and spinning to produce a fibre of working thickness and strength suitable for weaving.

This machine with its impressive roll of punchcard is an early jacquard machine the design of which transformed the use of silk by the French fashion industry.
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I resisted buying any of the beautiful but expensive nuno silk items in the shop but logged a few ideas nevertheless! Outside in the market square a craft fair was in process so back out into the sun we went to enjoy some alternative temptation.

4 comments on “Taulignan and the French silk industry

  1. mltai
    14/02/2014

    i love reading your blog. I’ve been looking for this rolling pin you used for felting. May I have the name of your source perhaps?

    • lizseville
      14/02/2014

      That remark makes me happy. Thank you. Are you in UK? It is from http://www.worldofwool.co.uk look in equipment and accessories and then felting equipment for their felting rolling pin. Have fun!

      • mltai
        14/02/2014

        Thnaks, that is wonderful. I live in California, US. It would be too a tad bit pricey for shipping charges. Thanks anyway, love reading your blog and look forward to more lovely posts.

      • lizseville
        15/02/2014

        Lovely to speak to you. Do you get Etsy? They sell small hand held felting tools made in wood like a kind of hand massager which might help.

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