Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Raw silk or cooked silk?

Sunday morning, sitting in Quaker meeting, an uncomfortable awareness came to me about my painting on silk.  The energy in the silk scarf I was wearing, my favorite one that I painted in the greens and golds of spring, seemed somehow hard and cold. Why? 

It occurred to me that the silk I love to paint, with the vibrant colors, the iridescence, was harvested by killing the silk worms that created it. The live worm and cocoon are dipped into boiling water so that the silk can be unrolled from the cocoon in one long thread. The energy of that violence seemed to be in the silk. 

Ach! That's not the energy I want to put into the world! And here I am, about to enter into an intense period of painting to create new work for my show at Vashon Community Care Center in September! And I still have 18 beautifully dyed silk scarves I had planned to put into my etsy shop!  I have probably 9 yards of silk charmeuse left I had planned to paint on! 

What shall I do? I feel strongly encouraged, both by the joy I feel in painting on silk and by the comments of friends who tell me how strong this work is, but how can I continue to work with a material produced by killing even such small creatures as silk worms?

I have begun looking into silk noir, wild silk, and other cloth. Wild silk and possibly silk noir are made with cocoons the worms have finished with, left behind when they were transformed into moths. 

1 comment:

  1. I see your dilemma - and I did not realise that in commerical production, silk worms were killed (unlike, as you say, in wild silk)... Tough moral choice ...