Silk Seed Project- Wearable art celebrating the diversity of life and conservation of nature. The project is the work of Christopher Palm presenting silk scarves featuring images from conservation projects he has worked on in Ecuador over the last decade. Proceeds support a bio incubator working with vanilla and the cultivation of silk. The objective is to introduce alternative economic models of cultivation on the coast of Ecuador funded through the sales of art.
Silk Seed #1 features images from the Choco Forest of Ecuador and Guacamayo from the a species reintroduction program in Ayampe to bring these birds that are instrumental in seeding a tropical forest back to lands that have been depredated over the years by the exploits of man. We are of this first and we can take take from the forest but only so much we give back. Commercial sustainable logging in a topical forest is an absolute lie and only harms a forest for economic greed.
Silk Seed #2 Features a line of endangered Magnolias found in the Choco forest and protected by JocoToco reserves. There are estimated to be 12 of these trees growing in the forest system and require help from humans to germinate. The design was released for Juneteenth, a celebration in the United States of the emancipation of slaves. The design celebrates the beauty and interdependence of all life forces on this earth.
Silk Seed #3 Aspen to Ocean -Frequency of Life featuring a custom design incorporating the gravity of life. A school of tuna form an eye, collective consciousness as we look in and look away. Waves keep coming and aspen sheds its leaves, Butterflies with our hopes and dreams rise up to the sky. Palo Santo and Matapalo make it safe to breathe, gardenia reminds us why we are here. The planets align just in time. Sometimes lost and then reborn, stand tall and follow the sun around at least one more time. The journey of all live and my story from the mountain to the see written in the language of the trees.
History of silk The process of silk production is known as sericulture. It was discovered by the Chinese 5,000 years ago. According to legend, the princess Xi Lingshi discovered that a cocoon could be unravelled to produce a thread when one dropped into her tea while sat under a mulberry tree.
Silk worms have been domesticated over the years. They feed exclusively on a diet of mulberry leaves and require human support. They can not survive in the wild. During their 28 day life cycle they eat 50,000 times their initial body weight and will grow 10,000 times their initial mass. They shed their skin 4 times during their life. 3,000 worms are required to produce a kilogram of fabric. When it is time to cocoon, each worm will spin a single thread upto 2 kilometers length into a protective cocoon where metamorphous into a flightless moth will occur. Typically this is where the journey ends for most as silk is more valuable prior to the moth emerging. Moths that do emerge will live for 5 days without eating or drinking while seeking a mate. Females will lay upto 500 hundred eggs before dying.
Silk emerged from China and was one of the most valuable products traded along the silk road. It made its way first to Japan, India and Arabia before reaching Italy and France. Brought back to Europe after the crusades it became an industry of Nobel houses. During the renaissance in Europe Silk had become woven into a foundation of societal betterment. For the first time, women were able to play an economic role producing products in the home that could be traded. The value of their labor was worth more than the activity generated by men working hard in the fields.
By the end of the 15th century silk had woven its ways into Italy and France. The Spanish had their eyes clearly focused on gold and other riches discovered in the new world. Extraction of wealth and recourse were highly much more profitable than producing fabric. Silk production did not make it make it to the Americas until much later. Brazil is now the worlds 5th largest producer involving nearly 10,000 people primarily in the south east.
Silk fibers can be spun into yarns or threads. Threads are stronger than steal, take on dyes better than any other natural fiber and can be woven into rope with incredible strength, fishing nets and fabrics of the highest quality. Unlike nylon silk breaks down into fibers that are absorbed back into natural environment without leaving a trace.
Silk is not a perfect product however, in a permaculture production cycle it can be very beneficial to a family, a community and the earth. Mulberry requires sunshine, warmth and water to grow well. It grows well without a significant support in many locations along the coast of Ecuador. This gives Ecuador a natural advantage in silk production. As we face changing climate many locations where mulberry has been cultivated may not be able to continue to produce.