In the Mediterranean, there lives a type of clam called the noble pen shell, or pinna nobilis. Its saliva, when it contacts sea water, solidifies as delicate strands called byssus, or sea silk. This BBC article discusses a Sardinian woman named Chiara Vigo who may be the last woman alive who knows how to harvest, spin, dye, and weave this precious fiber.
Ms. Vigo does not sell her work, believing that byssus belongs to all humanity, but gives her creations away as gifts. Her daughter, who lives in Dublin, is the natural heir to this knowledge, but is torn about whether she is willing to dedicate her life to learning, preserving, and ultimately transmitting it.
Do not miss this article. The photographs and embedded video alone are worth viewing for those who love history and are fascinated by the history of textiles and clothing.