Silken Threads: A Journey from China 

Thu 12 Jun 2014,  10.30am–12 noon
Vodafone Centre, Level 3
Friends of Te Papa $15, public/guests $20 (includes refreshments and parking). Registration required. Email or phone (04) 381 7051.
Talk; Special; Friends 

Join Thelma Whiston for a fascinating discussion about the history of silk. This luxurious fabric has had many uses – as a status symbol, and in medicine, engineering, and cosmetics.

Collage of block-printed silk, date and photographer unknown.
Courtesy of Thelma Whiston.

Silk is a natural fibre which has isothermal properties and is very strong. Silk yarn takes dye well and reflects light to produce rich glowing colours. It can be woven into many types of complex cloth.

Throughout its long history, silk has been sought after by emperors and people of high rank.

Silk production began in China. But once the secret of the cultivation of the mulberry tree (the food of the silkworm) and the art of sericulture was out, silk making spread rapidly across Europe and Asia.

Two extraordinary exhibitions from China – find out more

Friends of Te Papa – find out more

Thelma Whiston

Silk production has been part of Thelma Whiston’s family since 1796. The family specialised in hand-block printing on silk and later silk screen-printing. It was this connection that encouraged Thelma to research silk’s unique and varied uses throughout the centuries until the present day.

Thelma volunteered for the Macclesfield Silk Museums Trust in the United Kingdom for 20 years. She worked as a guide and a guest speaker, visiting many organisations to generate interest in the museum’s silk collection.

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