Step 8: Others who have used spider silk, and some of the research done on it
This is an exhibit on a piece of textile made entirely out of spider silk: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/spidersilk/ These are all scientific articles on spider silk: http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?article_id=218392167&language=english http://www.accessexcellence.org/WN/SU/spider.php http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100514151853.htm This ...
During the summer months, spider webs cover every corner, and every open space of my yard. These webs are humongous, the largest ones being about 5 feet wide. The webs I encounter in my garden are webs are from several kinds of Orb spiders. None of the spiders that build the giant webs in my garden are poisonous. This is lucky for me, because I have walked into countless numbers of webs.
I have also encountered many abandoned webs, which gave me the idea of harvesting these out-of-use webs for their silk. Having walked into so many webs, I know how unbelievably strong and stretchy their threads are. Spider silk, in fact, is the strongest fiber ever discovered. Spider silk is stronger than steel, for its diameter; that is, a thread of steel would be weaker than a thread of spider silk of the same size.
Scientists have been working on how to entirely artificially duplicate spider silk in the lab for a while, but have not yet been able to make the silk entirely without spiders. I have included some websites of some recent research on the subject at the end of the instructable.
In this instructable, I will show I how I harvested abandoned webs and turned them into threads that I could use to sew.
Step 1: Understand which species make the right webs
Where I live, in southern North Carolina in the USA, there are about four types of spiders that make good webs for collecting:
1) golden orb spider,
2) black and yellow orb spider,
3) crab orb spider,
4) orchard spider
All of these build large, regular orb shaped webs, with strong fibers. None of these spiders are dangerous, but I recommend avoiding their bites anyway, because it could be painful, and there may be those who are allergic to their bites. I have never heard of anyone being allergic to orb spiders, but it's not impossible. Also, if you got close enough to one of these spiders to actually get bit by it, you were probably seriously annoying it (I have actually poked a giant golden orb spider once to show my uncle that it was harmless).
Before collecting webs from any spider, please make sure you know what kind of spider it is. There are poisonous spiders in the USA. Outside the USA, I cannot speak with authority about the kinds of spiders, so you should do you own research about spiders before collecting their webs. Especially in Australia (home of the most poisonous spider in the world)! In the USA there are two web building spiders that have a deadly venom, and should be avoided at all costs:
1) The black widow (and brown widow) spider
2)The brown recluse
I have not seen these in my yard, but I have avoided their habitats on purpose. The picture I have of them are not mine, because I did not want to stick my face in them to take their pictures. Luckily, these spider's webs look completely different than the four spiders I mentioned earlier. While the four spiders I mentioned all build webs in the open, above ground, and in regular orb shapes,the poisonous spiders build irregular webs in piles of wood, rocks, bricks, and other things. These spiders are often found in garages, for instance, or firewood piles. I will say it again that these spiders are very dangerous! If you are bit by one ever, go to the emergency room!
I have included pictures of the spiders I mentioned, and their webs.