Mechthild Reinders

Flat Spun Mulberry Silk In Architectural Contexts: the ultimate redefine of the sublime


This material, in a modern interpretation of the ancient technique of flat spinning, is predestined for contemporary design. It is strikingly architectural in its simplicity and minimalism.  

For interiors, this widely unknown approach of creating silk fabric is a dream for extraordinary living.

Bombyx Mori silkworms act like mini 3D printers,

covering flat areas that, in the end, appear like frozen lakes, with a continuous silk filament that can be up to 3000meters long.  

Or they can encage different 3D shapes with silk.

Flat spun silk is reminiscent of paper to the touch, as the sericine, similar to an adhesive, is still present. It can be extremely fine and transparent or more dense, depending on the amount of silkworms that have been put into action. Therefore, very different transparencies can be achieved. 

Flat spun silk, in its intriguing beauty, is best presented in a juxtaposition of raw and delicate, of rough and fine. It is highly architectural in combination with contrasting materials as

– stainless steel 

– highly polished aluminum

– (rusty) iron  


– slate  

– cement or concrete

– glass

I am thus delighted to present flat spun mulberry silk, a mesmerizing and ingeniously aesthetic wonder of Nature that appears like pure Zen: bright and clear.

Mulberry silk is sought after as the world’s most noble, sophisticated and highest quality silk, famous for its unparalleled brilliance. No other silk appears as lustrous. The mulberry silk thread is of a triangular shape. Hence, when the light hits the silk, it bounces back. With its translucency, it is the perfect material for the creation of light objects. Lit from behind, the transparency is visible; lit from the front, its gleaming appearance is enchanting. 

This silk created by the Bombyx Mori silkworms originated in China and has been produced for up to eight thousand years. Nowadays the insects are no longer found in the wild, they are unable to fly and cannot sustain themselves: they are completely domesticated. Their food is the leaves of Morus Alba, the white mulberry tree, only. After hatching from their eggs, as tiny as Chia seeds, they grow in 4 weeks- time from 2mm to 9cm, shed 4 times and live through 5 “ages”. They multiply their body weight 10.000 times, until the silk thread appears.

With its 5 micron, it is the finest thread in the world, yet 5 times stronger than steel.


In the commonly known silk production though, the worms spin themselves into a cocoon, by moving over three days in a figure of 8, while depositing the silk thread around their body.

In this shell, the cocoon, the silk worm will turn into a butterfly and the metamorphose will take place. 

These cocoons unwind after they have been placed into boiling water. The sericine, which encloses the fibroin (the silk), dissolves and only the silk thread remains. 5, up to 10 of these silk filaments than are then combined into one single which is used for the weaving of silk fabrics. Nowadays these silk threads are produced in China, India and Brazil. Raising silkworms is extremely laborious, intense and costly.

I visualize the following creations utilizing flat spun mulberry silk:

– “paintings”, wall coverings / panels in unaltered flat spun silk in a baroque or minimalistic frame or simply unframed

– triptychs / room dividers (in a stainless steel or aluminum frame)

– light objects   

I will create several murals, in different techniques, but all of them with the dominant material of flat spun mulberry silk, with my breeding of silkworms in 2022 (as the insects feed on Morus Alba leaves only, this is a seasonal undertaking):

– a tapestry, where I work with flat spun silk in which I integrate wool and silk rovings in different shades of anthracite and grey, corrugated (inspired by a marble wall in Cluny, Bourgogne)

– a tapestry, like an abstract “painting”, inspired by the polar photos of Camille Seaman. Here, the calved ice will be created from flat spun silk, the dark sea from black and anthracite silk, the sky from Merino wool in shades of grey and white

– a tapestry, inspired by the oeuvre of Pierre Soulages, a “painting” in wool and silk.

I will make use of materials of very different textures as rough Mongolian Karakul wool, with a micro of 34 in dark, earthy colors, black and “golden” silk and wool, hand- dyed with plants and brilliant flat spun mulberry silk 

©Mechthild Reinders

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