From silkworm to silk
The owner of a mulberry tree farm, Henri Brion, cuts year-old branches from a tree (Morus alba).
Ueli Ramseier (l.) and Brion prepare the cuttings.
Planting a young mulberry tree.
Three times a day, the silkworms are fed mulberry leaves.
Within a month, the weight of the millimetre-long larvae has increased ten thousand fold and they have become finger-sized silkworms.
The cardboard grid containing finished cocoons as well as silkworms at the beginning of chrysalis.
A silkworm perches on silk cocoons after climbing out of one.
The cocoons are boiled to dissolve the glue secreted by the silkworm.
In a special machine the silk thread of 8 to 12 cocoons is wound together to create a single strand of raw silk.
The thread from a single cocoon can measure up to three kilometers in length.
To make one kilogramme of raw silk, 4500 cocoons are needed.
Ramseier and Oliver Weissbrod (r.) evaluate the first weaving attempts in Weissbrod's silk weaving mill.
Cutting the fabric in a tie shop.
This silk tie "Made in Switzerland" should ultimately cost a bit more than SFr100.
Ueli Ramseier has a vision. He wants to bring silkworm breeding back to Switzerland. Not much is left of the one-time silk superpower. The last breeders in Ticino closed their businesses before the First World War.
The association of Swiss silk producers, swiss silk, wants to revive silk production in in the country. The industry was one of Switzerland's biggest in 1900. The long-term goal is annual production of 10 tons of raw silk, which would provide a substantial side income for 300 farmers. Ueli Ramseier, federal official, trained textile chemist and a farmer on the side, is one of the initiators of the project. Photographer Tomas Wüthrich accompanied Ramseier while he worked.