I definitely love wrapping with silk. I have always been a big fan of Pearsall’s silk threads. I honestly believe that the dye batches are the most consistent, color fast, and easily matched. I have been wrapping with Pearsall’s consistently for the last fifteen or so years and have had no guide failures at all. I suppose this sounds a bit like a sales pitch but I’m typically a very reserved optimist and a bit superstitious on top of it all. So I usually keep my happy thoughts to myself. I wrap a lot of rods with white silk which eventually ends up as clear wraps. I have managed over the years to consistently create crystal clear wraps, no glassing at all, no thread tunnel pockets or bubbles by paying close attention to time, temperature, and viscosity using spar. Pearsall’s silk is all I will use to achieve clear wraps to my level of “perfectness” or maybe I just have a high level of comfort and trust with our friends in the UK. My wife has watched me over the years reach scarey levels of deep meditation and severe cognitive dissonance over this particular process. If you approached her on the topic of clear wraps she would wink at you and say I was truly insane. Most people who have seen my wraps would understand my level of OC when it comes to finishing.
One remarkable property of silk is its high tensile strength and its fibers will not easily tear or damage. It is also an elastic medium that can be stretched and then will recover to its original size unless stretched beyond 20-25% of its original length. It has been used in the past in making guy ropes to take advantage of this resilliency.
The attributes of silk all are very positive in my point of view. Pearsall’s offers “Naples”, a heavier diameter silk, which I use for overwrapping ferrules, and the standard “Gossamer” silk thread that I use for guide wrapping and tipping. Again silk has a very high tensile strength but maintains a very consistent minimal diameter. With this in mind it is perfect for whipping threads. Silk evenly absorbs solvent like a sponge, so if you are using spar or even spar urethane blends you can get a very consistent clarity if applied and diluted correctly.
Silk thread has the property of being a very flexible material. For example, a silk scarf can readily be pulled through a wedding ring, and it will quickly retake its original shape without a lot of wrinkling. In addition, silk holds its structural integrity and will not rot. Silk is also more heat resistant than many other types of thread, including nylon, and is actually rather difficult to burn.
Silk takes well to dyes, both natural and synthetic, which results in wide variables when it comes to color especially in threads. Another property of silk is its soft feel, and it retains it shape well, even after having been stretched. In appearance silk has a sheen and luminosity which makes it easier to work with while wrapping under a magnifier. Both bamboo and silk complement one another as raw mediums. They have been used in tandem for hundreds if not thousands of years for swords, suits of armor, and specialized tools. I suppose if a synthetic equivalent to silk was ever developed I would turn my cheek because like bamboo it is truly a gift from Mother Nature.