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A Silk Purse From a Sow's Ear
1921

Taking up Swift's challenge
Massachusetts industrialist Arthur D. Little liked a challenge. In 1921, after hearing someone quote Jonathan Swift's adage, "You can't make a silk purse of a sow's ear," Little decided to try to do just that. From a meat-packer he obtained a form of glue made from the skin and gristle of sows' ears. Taking an amount roughly equivalent to one sow's ear, he had it filtered and forced through a spinneret into a mixture of formaldehyde and acetone. The glue emerged as 16 fine, colorless streams that hardened and then combined to form a single composite fiber. Little soaked the fiber in dyed glycerin. Then he wove the resulting thread into cloth on a handloom-and fashioned the cloth into the elegant purse shown here, the kind of item carried by ladies of the Middle Ages.

Notes
10" long
Glue mixture, glycerin, metal
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