May 20th, 2010 | Bethany Nowviskie
Hey, nerds. I’m going to bring some leftover supplies from Hacking Wearables and E-Textiles, the soft-circuits workshop that Bill Turkel and I recently hosted at Great Lakes THATCamp. Participants combined traditional (often gendered) techniques and materials — like embroidery stitches and grosgrain ribbon — with conductive thread, coin-cell batteries, LEDs, and interactive switches to create toys and wearable art. We also tinkered a little bit with sensors and the programmable Lilypad Arduino.
It takes a while to get even a small project off the ground, so I don’t suggest we hold an actual session and start modding our THATCamp t-shirts, or designing finger puppets, circuit pigs, and light-up counting gloves (pics above) — but I will have some small example projects on hand and a 3-minute slideshow that demonstrates how to sew a basic circuit. If you’re interested, grab me at lunch or on a break. I can quickly show you how to turn a regular LED into a sewable bead with which you can create a “self-meriting merit badge” like the ones below.
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I’m happy to cut a length of conductive thread for anybody who asks, and to hand out LEDs (while supplies last!). Even if you’re not especially artsy-craftsy, you might want to snag some conductive thread for your gloves next winter. A couple of quick stitches, and you’ll be able to use a touch-screen even in the coldest weather!
If you’d like to get a better sense of the theory and practice of wearable electronics, check out our Zotero group — where you’ll also find some smart pedagogy articles.