MORGAN, E., 2015. Sticky layers and shimmering weaves: a study of two human uses of spider silk. Journal of Design History, 29 (1), pp. 8-23.
Spiders can produce up to seven different types of silk, each with different properties—some silks are sticky and elastic, while others are dry and tough. This paper examines and compares two ways in which humans have used this diverse material to design fabrics: the weaving of dry silk threads, and the layering of complete spider webs. The study investigates how these fabrics are formed by both the properties of the material and differing human perceptions of it, and the actions of the spiders themselves. It proposes that in order to develop a broad ecological approach to design and design history, attention should be given to the role of non-human animals.
This paper is closed access until 13th June 2017.
Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the
UCL Graduate School.