In Search of Wild Silk

Hi friends of SEFAA. I am Karen Selk, a textile artist, educator, traveler, researcher, and writer. My primary focus is silk.

The first time I went to India was a journey of a lifetime. Little did I know it would begin a lifetime of journeys – an adventure of over thirty years of research, discovery, and caring. Everything about wild silk – tasar (tussah), muga, and eri – is captivating, exotic, and full of heart. It is much more than the miraculous journey of metamorphosis from caterpillar to silken luxury. It is tightly woven into an ancient living culture raising silkworms in remote forests of central and eastern India. Village men and women unravel cocoons to make yarn and weave cloth in textured, rich earthy tones of beige, gold, umber, and papyrus.

Raising wild silkworms, reeling cocoons, spinning fiber, and weaving silk cloth is labor-intensive, boosting employment for millions of rural Adivasi (indigenous) people and lifting the status of women. It is centered around family and community with a deep connection to the land providing sustainable work and a regular income while maintaining a traditional lifestyle. Increased income means the younger generations are remaining in their communities rather than migrating to overburdened urban areas and preserving their culture. Tens of thousands of trees are planted to feed the silkworms, enhancing the environment by reducing carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen in our atmosphere.

My new book, In Search of Wild Silk: Exploring a Village Industry in the Jungles of India, delves into this amazing world of wild silk and the Adivasi of India who raise wild silkworms. Over 350 photos and stories captured by weavers, spinners, and silkworm farmers transport you into their homes and villages to get an up-close look at the intimate connection to the skill, dedication, and love involved in each part of the process from soil to cloth. You’ll be drawn into the captivating world of a unique living culture that has been engaged in a sustainable industry for generations. and you’ll learn about the specialized tools and techniques the artisans use to transform cocoons into yarn and luxurious fabrics.

You’ll find In Search of Wild Silk at:

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