For this final wearables project, I wanted to explore the creative aspects of e-textiles and focus on design and structure. Making something that was aesthetically pleasing that almost felt like an art piece while including a cool e-textiles feature, in this case LEDs. I decided to make an inspiration board in the early stages of my brainstorm and I was inspired by various headwear from derby hats to tradition East Asian crowns. I noticed that I was mostly leaning towards a fairy-core aesthetic and decided to follow that style with material and structure. During my brainstorm ,I was inspired by the shape of a pelican flower which seemed like a very interesting option for a headpiece while taking into consideration all of my other hat/headpiece inspirations to come up with FEE. A headpiece made for an alternate universe.
My goal for this project was to really push myself to create something unique and not use any preexisting garments. Understanding how fashion forward designers create their pieces and are able to push the creativity of wearables was something that I felt needed more exploration. Circuit wise, I wanted LEDs to blend into the piece not taking away from its aesthetic but still incorporating e-textiles.
The process for this wearable was complex but was a good learning experience for future projects and truly pushed me to put in a large amount of hours into one project.
My initial brainstorm + inspo board was quite successful and led me to a similar shape to my final product. While brainstorming , the biggest issue was always figuring out how to fit the circuit discreetly onto the piece while keeping the aesthetic I wanted. I decided to use the beads as a switch for the LED which meant they would fit into the piece and act as my e-textiles component. (see slides for circuit diagram)
I first started creating the metal wire structure and then testing my circuit with alligator clips and various bead combinations to make sure my switch worked. I then had to cover the structure with yarn to prevent short circuits and creating separate tubbing for the LED and resistor connections so that they would be isolated. Once all of that was done, I could finally attach it to my headpiece and start attaching the LEDs and the switch beads.
Even though I was testing my circuit LITERALLY EVERY STEP of the way, after attaching the beads a connection was being made which constantly kept the circuit closed (NOT GOOD) and I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to take it all apart and figure out where it was going wrong so I improvised another switch where the battery was connecting to the LEDs. This new switch was based on the same principal as my original idea but had fewer beads.
After I got all of that working and ready, I could finally crochet the entire piece, add finish beads and VOILA!
See google slides for detailed step by step of process: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/14IK8RrtWnqajgSNP8DfCWIaqQzW2Z3_vlitRrT_EUHQ/edit?usp=sharing
FEE turned out pretty much how I wanted minus the circuit troubles but overall I am very proud of the wearable that I created! (See slides for LED interaction video)
- Aluminum Metal Wire
- Hot glue
- Regular thread
- Conductive thread
- 220 Ohm resistor
- 2 LEDs
- 3V battery
Reflection + Next step
Overall I think my open project turned out pretty well (even if the circuit wasn’t working as expected) and I would definitely evolve this project into a series if I had opportunity. Planning a better execution for the circuit and really making sure every bead strand is working in its intended way when attaching them to the piece would definitely be the takeaway from this project. Positioning the circuit differently or even creating the base structure in coated wire might make a difference in trouble shooting and having a better circuit workflow. I would also maybe consider using metal beads instead of conductive thread looped around regular beads as that would be much easier to manage and might attach better to a wire structure. Making a series of headpieces integrating bead switches w/ LEDs might be an interesting future project or even creating an entire outfit based of the aesthetic of this headpiece could also be another interesting future endeavour.
Prior, O. (2022, Feb 10) Digital Switch Workshop. Canvas OCAD U. https://canvascloud.ocadu.ca/courses/2871/pages/workshop-making-our-own-digital-switches-45-min?module_item_id=241164
Plusea. (2019, Jan 26) Beaded Sway Sensor. Kobakant. https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=7370
Wilson, H. (2010, Mar 8) Knitted Stretchy Cable. Kobakant. https://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=2245