Silk with Swiss Character
Swiss watches, knives, cheese - and silk? Thanks to resourceful farmer Ueli Ramseier this precious material will soon (again) become one of the trading Swiss goods.
The “Swiss Silk” project is an excellent example of inventiveness, initiative and courage. Ironically, during the time when the price pressure is increasing by silk import from China, Ueli Ramseier has decided to revive the Swiss silk production.
The fact, which is not familiar to many people, - there was an old tradition of silk production in Europe. Especially silk production brought prestige and prosperity to the countries with a mild climate such as Italy. The reason is that the climatic conditions are of high importance for the mulberry tree growth. Its leaves are the only source of food for the silkworm, and therefore an important criterion for its breeding. For this reason by the initiative of Ueli Ramseier there have been undertaken the attempts of mulberry trees freezing during the past five years in seven regions. As the result of that, 3,700 trees have been currently planted by the partner farmers. “A mulberry tree yields about seven kilograms of leaves per year. And to get a kilogram of raw silk one needs 180 kg of caterpillars food”, Ueli Ramseier makes the calculation. He runs his sericulture in Hinterkappelen today. Totally they get 144 kg of raw silk.
The goal of his project is to create an extra income for the farms and at the same time to support the Swiss textile industry. Meanwhile, the silk producer delivers his precious material to the industrial enterprises for experimental purposes. The market entry is planned for 2014. At first, this silk should be used to produce such textile accessories as ties. As the second line of business Ramseier considers selling of the by-product of silk production, so-called noil silk or silk waste. They could be sold to private silk masters.
At the beginning of his ambitious project he was looking for the buyers of his silk himself - because without it, his idea would have been doomed to failure. “It is not easy to find allies in the industry without the end product. We were selling just our idea - and even though we have managed to evoke an interest of trademarks”, Ueli Ramseier says. To make matters worse, the Swiss luxury product costs about five times more than the silk on the world market.
About 20,000 silkworms consumed leaves of the mulberry trees, planted for this purpose in 2012 by seven farmers, pupated and thus produced the precious fiber. A machine for cocoons reeling (unwinding silk) and for the production of raw silk has been purchased - a single cocoon contains not less than 800 to 3,000 meters of silk thread. Later, this raw silk will be industrially processed. Silk noil spinning, twisting of filament yarn and textile manufacturing, design and subsequent production of ready-made clothes and accessories, as well as calculation of their costs will be fulfilled entirely in Switzerland.
Before and after: the cocoons and raw silk, © Ueli Ramseier
Uli Ramzayer during silk winding, © Ueli Ramseier
There are up to 3,000 meters of silk thread in one cocoon, © Ueli Ramseier
The result of intensive preparatory work: the silk from Switzerland, © Ueli Ramseier
Caterpillars during spinning of the Swiss silk, © Ueli Ramseier
Based on the materials of http://www.i-teria.com