March 28-30, 2003


Smith College
Northampton, Massachusetts

This symposium gathers international scholars and researchers from diverse fields, with artisans and students to examine the complexities of silk production and the range of its social, technological, political and sensual power.

The event will coincide with the partial re-opening of the Smith College Museum of Art and its inaugural exhibit, Silk in New England Society, 1730-1930.

All sessions are free and open to the public, with advance registration. Please send your contact information to or Northampton Silk Project, Kahn Institute, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063. Organized by Professor Kiki Smith, Theatre Department.

Friday, March 28

Part I - "From Moth to Cloth: the Processes of Silk Production" (hands on!)
11:30a.m. - 4:00p.m.
Smith College Museum of Art, Atrium

Local artisans and students will demonstrate the various processes of silk textile production. The steps will include: sericulture (the raising of silk worms and harvesting of the cocoons), reeling (the unwinding of cocoons), twisting (the twisting of multiple silk filaments into thread), finishing (the cleaning of the threads), dying, warping (the preparing of warps for looms), and weaving (of cloth, braided trims, whip snaps).

Lecture: "Reweaving Threads of History"
7:30p.m. - 8:30p.m.
Wright Hall Auditorium

Madelyn Shaw, Associate Curator, Costumes and Textiles, Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design and guest curator of the exhibit, Silk in New England Society, 1730-1930. Followed by a special viewing of the exhibit.

Saturday, March 29

Part II - Case Studies: Why Does Silk Production Succeed or Fail?
9:30a.m. to 12:00p.m.
Wright Hall Auditorium

"The Travails of the 19th Century American Silk Industry"

Christopher Clark, Professor of History, Warwick University (UK) (The Communitarian Moment: the Radical Challenge of the Northampton Association)

"A Comparative Look at the Success of Silk Production in Laos and India"

Karen Selk, founder and co-owner of Treenway Silks in British Columbia and Director of Product Development -Southeast Asia for in Seattle

2:30p.m. to 5:00p.m.

"Italy and Silk in the Early Modern Period (XIVth-XVIIth Centuries)"

Luca Mola, Professor of History, Warwick University (UK) (The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice

"Guidelines for a Successful Sericulture Start-Up"

Ronald Currie, former Director of the International Silk Association in Lyon

Sunday, March 30

Part III - What is Silk Worth Today?

1:00p.m. - 4:00 pm
Wright Hall Auditorium

"Marketing Handwoven Silk Products from Southeast Asia and India in European and American Markets"

Clare Smith, President of Aid to Artisans, Hartford, CT., a non-profit organization dedicated to creating economic opportunities for crafts people in developing countries.

"Why Sericulture Today?"

Li Long, Deputy Director of the Zhenjiang Sericulture Institute, China

"Biomedical Utility for Silks -- New Uses for an Old Material"

David Kaplan, Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Director of the Bioengineering Center of Tufts University

This page was last modified on Monday, August 26, 2002.