In a few weeks, the Fashioning Circuits crew is going to lead a workshop on Open Source Fashion at the Girl Scouts College Journey — Teaming for Tomorrow summer camp at UT Dallas. In addition to introducing students to open source and the Lilypad arduino, we will be leading 25 high school students in a take-home project. Each student will get to make and take home a twinkling wrist cuff with four colored LEDs, made from the LilyTwinkle and Lilypad LEDs. Kim Knight just finished making the prototype and will be training the trainers soon. We only have four hours total for the workshop so we’ll cut out all of the fabric and sew the first few seams in advance, but the tutorial below covers the entire process from start to finish.
Because I’m interested in the nature of online commentary, I came up with a project idea that might seem a bit absurd. After constructing this hat at the beginning of the semester and noticing that it was less-than aesthetically pleasing due to bad stitching and a loud, obnoxious print, I wondered how I could use that to my advantage.
What if I took this hat and made it react to anything negative someone said about it? To do this I’m setting up a website where users can look at a photo of my hat (see above) and make value judgments on the attractiveness level of my hat. Users can select one of two options, saying “yes, I like that hat” or “no, it’s ugly.” If the user declared my hat to be unappealing, my hat would react through the power of a post-Britney Justin Timberlake, and begin to play “Cry Me a River.” The idea is that the hat will have an instantaneous reaction to negative commentary, illuminating that what you say or do online can have consequences. (In this case, the consequence is that the hat gets sad/bumps a little JT.)
So far, I have a soundboard that I (with a lot of help!) have soldered to connect to a speaker, which in turn should connect to the Lilypad Arduino that will eventually be loaded with the right code to respond to the very important “Do you like my hat?” question.
From here, I need to get the right code so that the arduino powers the soundboard to play “Cry Me a River,” and once I get that working, I will work on the code to get the arduino to respond to an email account that I will set up. When, on the website, someone condemns my hat as being unattractive, it will trigger an email to be sent to an account that I have set up exclusively for my hat. The code for the arduino will trigger for each new email my inbox gets, and then it will start playing “Cry Me a River.”
I have a bit of a ways to go before I’m finished with this project, but in the words of Galaxy Quest’s Captain Peter Quincy Taggart, “Never give up, never surrender.”
Presenting our projects at Capstone. Photo taken by Mona Kasra.
Coming up with an idea for the final project was a difficult task because making something that is easily wearable that also has social meaning is harder then it sounds. I went back and forth around the idea of body image and how you could some how show that with led’s on a piece of clothing but decided that it wasn’t obvious enough. I came to realization sometime a few hours before we presented Kim with our concepts that I should focus on mastectomy patients and how they may feel being uneven after having a mastectomy.
My dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 2 years ago and has been through two battles fighting breast cancer. When they found the second cancerous tumor 6 months after her first battle was supposedly “over” they decided to do a mastectomy on her left breast. For a woman to go through losing a breast and a nipple is an extremely traumatic event for her self image. I decided to focus on making the light be a simple of what or how being uneven may feel like.
After deciding that I was going to do something revolving around this concept Kim and I had many discussions as to how to best convey this. We had some very fun concepts come out of our discussions but sadly time was an issue with getting the project completed. I would have loved to do both sides of the bra and make it very apparent that one side had a nipple and one did not. Kim also mentioned making one side blow up and one side not. I also thought about doing a light that was temperature sensitive since heat is a sign of cancer as well as part of radiation. These were all fantastic ideas but timing was an issue.
Several of the women associated with the Fashioning Circuits blog recently took their skills to the Design Your World Conference to teach young girls aged 10-12 how science can be fun. Specifically, with the coordination and leadership of Amy Pickup, we conducted a workshop about the LilyPad Arduino.
Photo courtesy laurenvoneperphoto Flickr Stream
The computers were set up and ready to go when the 15 girls came in and we were ready to teach! Amy lead a great discussion on the history of the LilyPad Arduino, then showed a video with some example projects, and went over all of the elements and add-ons for the LilyPad. Then it was on to the brainstorming session.
Each of the volunteers took a group of 2-3 girls and helped them come up with ideas and ways to use the LilyPad to create new clothing designs or functionality. It was really interesting to see what their young minds came up with. Two themes that I picked up were dealing with fear of the dark, like a glowing teddy bear that turns off after a set amount of time, and creating fun gimmicks to wear at school, like a backpack that blinks your name. Other ideas included glasses that would make a sound or light up if you lost them, and socks that would tell you when they are stinky.
Finally, it was time to get down to business and start coding! Each group had a computer, a LilyPad, an LED, some alligator clips to make connections, and directions on how to make it work. We started with attaching the LilyPad to the computer and then moved on to basic circuit completion. It was great to see how fast these girls learned!Continue reading »
In order to allow the light display to be the focus of the media object, I sewed the LilyPad Arduino to the inside of the purse. The majority of the stitches are also on the inside of the bag, and the cloth flowers hide the more noticeable threads visible on the outside.
My goal with this project was to create a media object that could combine both style and technology. The outside of the purse has cloth flowers that camouflage the sewn-in LEDs. When the LilyPad Arduino is activated, the LEDs blink and fade in a random pattern. The soft blinking lights and smooth pattern are meant to tie back to the idea of flowers being delicate and graceful.
While I was working on my project, I wondered if there was a way to make the LEDs respond to the beat in music. I chose the track (in the video) with that in mind. I loved how the lights almost look like they’re dancing to the music. That might be something I’ll look into for a future LilyPad Arduino-related project.
After an exciting trip to the Golden Do’r in Dallas, our editors met up with a collection of materials in hand and had the first Fashioning Technology Workshop. The day was spent sewing and soldering but more to come as the projects develop – including:
Purses that light up upon receiving a cell phone call
There are so many interesting things on this website that I admit I start browsing and quickly feel overwhelmed. For the purposes of Fashioning Circuits, I find the “E-textiles” section very interesting.
I have never ordered from them, so I can’t speak to customer service. I’ll update this when I have a chance.
Update: Lots of us at Fashioning Circuits have been getting our supplies from SparkFun with really positive results. They ship quickly and the stuff arrives in good shape.
Lots and lots of neon wire and LED options for adding some glow to your projects. Their service is fast and friendly, but my absolute favorite thing is that before they ship, they check your order to make sure that your pieces are compatible and you have everything you need to make stuff glow.