By: Dennis Wisser

The Chinese kept the secret of silk for thousands of years! Truly it is an exclusive fabric and back to the past it was only for the high society and kings. The secret was protected by enforcing dire penalties. Anyone found guilty of smuggling silkworm eggs, cocoons or even seeds of the mulberry tree was put to death.

A secret doesn't remain secret forever. The production of Thai silk begins with a small worm know as Bombyx mori: the silk worms coming from the eggs from the silk moth. The worms are eating the leaves of mulberry trees until they become 1 year old, after they will build a cocoon from their spittle.

To extract the silk thread, we have to put the cocoon in hot boiled water. The length of silk thread in a cocoon varies considerably, from 500 to 1,500 yards. The length much depending on the species of worm that produced it. ?Until today in Thailand, most silk thread is hand-reeled by women, the filaments form several cocoons being reeled together on a wooden spindle into a uniform strand of raw silk.

It is truly a time-consuming process.?It may take up to 40 hours to reel one and a half kilograms of silk. Several sericulture families have simplified the job by using a reeling machine. Most traditional manufacturers, however, still use the old or "original" method, which produces three grades of silk: two fine ones suitable for lightweight fabric and a thicker one used for heavier material.

The skeins of silk thread are then soaked in hot water to remove the remainder of the seracin. Since Thai silk yarn is yellow, it must be bleached before dyeing; this is done by immersing the skeins in large tubs containing hydrogen peroxide, after which they are washed and dried in the sun.

Thai Silk is then woven on a handloom, the threads (warps and wefts) that pass across and are inserted during the weaving process. Thai Silk is hand-woven fabric, which means that although if conforms to set standards of width, color, and quality it still retains a degree of individuality impossible to achieve by more advanced technology.

Cleaning & take care of Thai silk

Thai Silk has an excellent durable and resilient quality. It is a delicate fabric that cannot be treated like linen or cotton. To keep the fabric in its original look and feel it is recommended to do dry-cleaning. Wash Thai silk best by hand by using a very mild soap. Rinse the silk fabric in tepid water (not over 48.6 degrees Celsius) until it is cleaned. Then carefully press the water from the fabric by hand.?Do not wring. In the last rinse, add a spoonful of clear white vinegar to retain its original luster and allow it to drip dry in the shade.

Please do not use any drying or washing machine to clean your Thai silk item. We advise to iron the fabric on the reverse side just before it is dry; or you could also put a fabric over the silk during the iron process to make sure the iron does not have direct contact to the silk fabric.

Identification of real Thai silk

Simply follow the four main methods for determining true silk:?

-A) The Price

-B) Look & Feel

-C) Luster Check

-D) The Burning Test

A) Real Thai silk cost up to 10 times more than artificial silk.

B) One fact is that traditional Thai silk is hand-woven which means that no fabric is the same, and each one is unique. Artificial silk is machine woven, so it has always the same color and every part of the fabric looks exactly the same.

C) Luster also shows whether a fabric is real or imitation. Pure Thai silk is made with one color for the warp and the other for the weft. This produces the sheen and luster and additionally creates the unique two tones and blends. The change of the color is then depending on the angle you hold it against the light.

D) If you burn silk with a flame, it leaves fine ash and smells like burning hair. We remember silk is made of natural fiber coming from the silk worm and similar to the fiber of hair or fingernails. Once taking the flame away it stops burning. Burning artificial silk is similar to burning plastic, the smell, reaction to fire and look.

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