Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cactus Silk

Marrakech (309), originally uploaded by alisoninlondon.

Keeping up the international theme of the week on the Just Patchwork blog, the cactus silk bedspreads in the souqs in Marrakech were stunning.

I'm not entirely sure what cactus silk is - all I know is that I bought one, and wish I'd come home with many, many more (especially when I see the prices they ask for them in London).

Next time I travel to Morocco a whole suitcase of these stripey silks are coming home with me.


Amy said...

Cactus Silk is simply rayon (sabri in local dialect) which is manufactured in Morocco and holds dyes beautifully. There are a number of honest coooperatives that weave the rayon texiles that are made into scarves, bags, tapestries and other items. When sold as "catus silk" unscruplous merchants charge outrageous prices.

Susan said...

Hi, I live in Mexico and just came back from Morocco I too was a bit sceptical about the "cactus silk" carpet that one rug maker tried to sell me.

The Cactus is a mesoamerican plant taken by the Spanish after the conquest to the hotter parts of Europe and Africa.. the prickly pear is none other than the typical "nopal" which grows all over much of Mexico also the Agave plants of which there are many, aloe vera is an agave.

"Ixtle" as we know it in Mexico is a fibre that comes from some of the long agave plants the long spiky leaves are crushed and the fibres washed and hammered and this makes "silk thread" I can only assume that the cactus silk or soie as they call it in Morocco SHOULD be made of this fibre. I was not sure when I saw the Moroccan carpet and maybe it is some sort of viscose-rayon, however the real stuff is very soft and silky depending on the type of agave that you get the fibre from. It is a laborious process which would explain why the cactus silk rugs are so expensive.
My French was not too good and I would have liked to have investigated a bit more about the authenticity of this. The fibre is very strong and is often used in Mexico to decorate leather belts and saddles.

terbdaman said...

I recently returned from Morocco. I was told by our guide that this "cactus silk" was from agave. Fine fibers were sold on spools. These were twisted into thread by small battery powered twisters and tacked along the walls of the medina while they were being created. The guide was not trying to sell us anything and did not appear to have any relationship with the people making the threads.