Geri Forkner is usually in Tennessee creating felted and woven works of art, but she recently traveled to Thailand to lead an e-textile workshop with fashion design students at Rangsit University. Here are some details of the glowing scarves and more photos can be seen at Weaving School.
I do a wet felting technique that laminates wool fibers to a base cloth. To put it simply, the wool fibers penetrate lightweight silk chiffon with the addition of water, soap, and agitation, and in the process, change the color and texture of the silk. The wool shrinks and the silk doesn’t, so there are lots of possibilities for creating unusual shapes. There are many fibers available to slide conductive yarns through for invisible stitching and ways to create pockets to hide batteries.
I’m just learning how to use micro-controllers in my work, but for folks who have never heard of wearable tech, I’m making it as accessible and easy as possible. I’m telling them what’s available and hope they will take it from there. So, for the Rangsit workshop, we used contact paper as a “battery holder”. The latest stainless steel conductive thread works great, so all the students ended up with a working LED stitched to their scarf. I showed them a demo piece I made with a micro-controller to show what else is available. I had an issue with the Arduino when I set up my project in their art gallery, so I tracked down an electronics shop near the school that had one in stock with an adapter that worked for Thailand electricity. The folks at the shop also knew all about Raspberry Pi — two of the few words I know in Thai now are “red” and “hair”. One of the women at the shop apparently watches Lady Ada’s videos.
I’ve taught this basic felted scarf workshop many times and no two scarves ever come out the same. This time was no exception. The results were spectacular.
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