For the month of December Jeff and Christina considered the new Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn. The project “Off Center” was part of 3-art.org‘s monthly online exhibit of work made by teams, duos and collaborators. Follow our conversation about this controversial new arena and the area surrounding it here.
We had a great time at the Wyckoff Country Fair talking to folks about our projects. Gowanus Brooms, Corn, Silkworms, and Jeff’s newest invention — Mugwort Soap! And who knew that kids love to grind corn….
Husk is working on a new project. It involves the Samia cynthia, otherwise known as the Ailanthus Silkworm. This particular silkworm feeds on a diet of Ailanthus leaves. We are thinking about raising Samia cynthia to help us transform the Ailanthus tree, which is considered a weed tree, into something useful and desirable. In theory, by creating desire for the local silk produced by the NYC-based Ailanthus silkworms we could thin out the unwanted population of the Ailanthus trees in NYC. It’s an ironic twist to the ravages of desire and consumption — a case where depleting the natural resource happens to have a beneficial impact.
To see what we might be in for, Jeff ordered a dozen Samia cynthia eggs. They hatched on August 2nd. And for a few exciting days we watched them nibble on leaves. We examined them through a magnifying glass. We refreshed the container with Ailanthus leaves from an empty, over-grown lot on Hicks street. But, let’s face it, despite reading up on silkworm rearing on the internet, we’re amateurs. And sadly the survival rate was not good.
August 4th (Saturday): Three confirmed alive. They had grown slightly bigger and were whitish with little spots, By Sunday evening we counted only one. And on Monday, we did not see any as we carefully turned over the leaves. However we did add fresh leaves to the container… just in case.
August 10th: Just one day after the lament that all caterpillars were gone one was found crawling on a stem! And yesterday when we opened the container we counted FIVE live ones!
August 22nd: Now we have four thriving silkworms . It would have been five, but unfortunately one ended up in the compost pile a couple evenings ago when we were cleaning their container. We triple counted but I couldn’t find the fifth. In any case the survivors are doing well on their meals of Ailanthus salads. It’s supposed to be 35 days until they make their silken cocoons. Today we are on day 19 since hatching. We should look for cocoons around September 6th.
September 8th: Due to a couple accidents there are only three survivors of our original five. And today we have two cocoons and one caterpillar still munching away. We are not totally sure where this project is going and what the next steps are, but its been exciting to see Ailanthus leaves spun into silken sleeping bags.