This is the No. 1 Silk Factory/Mill in Suzhou, China. We had the opportunity to take the tour of this facility while we were visiting this beautiful old city near Shanghai. This is an excellent way to learn about silk production, you get a comprehensive over view of how we get from silk worm to silk dress. The wonderful aspect of this tour is that you can get right next to the women doing the work and freely walk around the machines in the factory. (Here in the U.S. there would be a trial lawyer at the beginning and end of the tour handing out business cards.) The women doing the work at the machines didn’t seem to notice that anybody else was in the building with them. They weren’t unfriendly, just focused at the task at hand, which is a good thing as there were lots of spinning/moving parts. This was great for shooting as nobody was smiling and preening for the camera. You won’t see any of my students in these shots as they were more enamored of the shiny silk products at the end of the tour and ran through the production part. So I stayed behind to get some shots that focus on the women doing their jobs, before the next tour group came through. In these shots you see the boiling, cleaning and reeling of the silk before it is sent to the looms.
Personally, I really don’t care for silk, I think it feels somewhat slippery and slimy. Silk looks beautiful, but I don’t want to touch it. I am a cotton man, t-shirt and jeans! But after we took the tour and saw how labor intensive this process was, we did manage to come home with a few small silk pillows.