Category Archives: Week 3 + 4 Assignment


Pearl Switch
This is a switch that the users can move the bead to different positions to turn on different LEDs. I used LEDs, paperboard, conductive tapes, pins, and foamed plastic. The pin is the trigger in my swatch. And the foamed plastics are stuck together to hide the needles of pins. I soldered 3 LEDs in each swatch. I got inspiration from arcades. Some old game machines have this kind of mechanism.

I learned how to weave by making use of a mini weaving loom. Maker, designer, artist, learner, craftsperson, and practitioner are the labels I gave myself during the process of weaving. Because the first thing I need to do is understanding the theory of weaving which is not very difficult. However, it takes time thinking about how to make different patterns instead of just rectangles. My favorite tool is my brain for now. And doing the creative jobs is the most exciting part of the making process. I realized the tricky thing about weaving is not how to make pretty patterns but how to hide all the thread residues to finish a piece.

Tips: Make sure binding of yarn and loom is tight enough or you will find all the yarns become loose in the end.

Fabric Sensors & Learning A New Craft (Weeks 3/4)

Part 1:

Fabric Pressure Sensor: Made from muslin, thread, conductive copper fused, velostat, copper tape.

I constructed this sensor by sewing two pieces of velostat between muslin with copper fused to each side. I followed the general idea on this instructable quite closely. I modified the shape and I used pinking shears to finish the edges of the three swatches made for my classmates. I didn’t like just giving people swatches with unfinished edges, but using the serger on such small swatches seemed like overkill. I experimented with keeping the raw edges on the inside of the sensor but the sensor was too small to turn it right-side out and not possibly damage the conductive material.

I also tried to make a linear potentiometer out of paper, copper tape, and graphite paint from Guerra paint. After a few hours of trying I could not figure out how to complete the circuit. I like the potentiometer as a sensor, I have no idea why, so I want to continue to try to make this work.

The first picture is of the progression of my thinking about how I would like to make a pressure sensor. The second are my pattern pieces. The third was my first test of the pressure sensor working.

Part 2:

The craft I chose to learn was woodworking. Woodworking is something I’ve been interested in for long time so this was the perfect opportunity! I also was able to combine this with my 3D project for Ideas In Form. It was nice because I was able to get pretty into basic wood working principles. I used band saws, panel saws, table saws, chop saws, and drill presses to create hinged frames to hang on top of digital ads in the subway system. Attached is a picture of the frames installed in the subway.

I would classify my practice at the moment as an artist, hacker, designer, and craftsperson. The art for me comes first with hacking, designing, and crafting working in service to the art. I imagine as I become better at the physical, and digital making of things I will feel less like a hacker, but maybe not. The feeling of being a hacker may depend on the type of art that I am making.

My favorite new tool is DEFINITELY the table saw, it’s such a versatile tool, and while it looks scary, and is dangerous, it is so so SO useful. I loved working with it. The smell of the wood shop is also one of my favorite smells. I would still say my all time favorite tool is still my mind, and its ability to always learn new things.

I love learning a new craft and woodworking was no different. New crafts always have this habit of changing the way I view the physical world around me. I am now so much more aware of how wooden objects I see could possibly be made. I have to say the entire process was very pleasurable. The only thing that was frustrating was how clueless I felt the first day working in the shop. It’s been a while since I felt totally helpless in a workshop and it’s not a feeling I relish. If I were to give anyone advice about woodworking, I would tell them to plan to spend double the amount of time they thing is necessary on their first project. Everything takes forever when you’re new.


Week 3 + 4 Assignment

Below is your assignment that is due 9/27. Remember: there is no class next week. Please make sure to bring your soldering iron to the 9/27 class.

PART 1: Computational Craft Swatch Exchange


~MFADT style ~

The exchange wishes to emphasize the importance of physicality and quality workmanship in an increasingly digital world.

~ e-Textile Swatch Exchange

A swatch is a microcosm: a small insight into a much bigger picture. It is the tip of the ice-burg, and it holds a world of potential inside. In creating a new swatch we are simultaneously cataloging knowledge and developing skills.

~ Definition from Swatch Exchange participant Becca Rose

A) Create a swatch. Design a switch or a sensor. You can use any materials you like. Document it on the blog using the same format as the post you made in class:

  • Title. Give it a name
  • Description. What does this swatch do? How does it work?
  • Materials. What materials are used? (cardstock, copper tape, conductive yarn, LEDs, etc)
  • Techniques. How was this swatch constructed? (e.g. folding, sewing, knitting, soldering, etc)
  • References. Where have you seen it before? What inspired you?

D) Make three more identical ones. You will give these to three classmates next class. (You will have 4 total swatches). They do not have to look exactly the same – you can play with color and aesthetic properties.

PART 2: Learn a New Craft 

Before next class, I would like you to try learning a new craft. That’s it. NO electronics. Make a swatch (small example) that comes out of your learning. This could include any of the following:

  • sewing (by hand or on the machine)
  • embroidery
  • knitting
  • crocheting
  • draping
  • paper engineering
  • woodworking
  • silkscreening
  • surface design / fabric printing
  • etc, etc, etc

Here are some tutorials from last year as inspiration (also, this was a much longer project last year – you do NOT need to go into this depth). There are also a TON of tutorials if you hit the Googles.

Next, create a post with an image of your swatch and reflect on the following questions.
After doing all of the above, write a blog post that answers the questions below. It doesn’t have to be long, but I would like you to spend a good amount of time reflecting on these:

  • How do you identify / classify your practice? Choose as many as you would like from the following and feel free to add to it. Briefly explain why you chose them.
    • storyteller
    • maker
    • engineer
    • coder
    • designer
    • artist
    • learner
    • hacker
    • research
    • educator
    • gamer
    • craftsperson
    • [other?]
  • What is your favorite tool and why? Yes, again ? (I’m going to put one restriction on this – you’re not allowed to say computer ?
  • Reflect on your experience trying out a new craft. Some questions you could address: What did you like about the process? What was frustrating? What insight did you gain? What advice would you give to someone?