Swimming Pool Scarf

Project Description:


Code: https://github.com/MariaShirokova/Assignment2_Wearables

I have always been fascinated by swimming pools and their aesthetics.

Pool Scarf is an interactive scarf which you can put on your head or shoulders. When you put it on and make a node, the lights change their colors. I aimed to recreate the beauty of the swimming pool, its reflection and game of lights. When its light, you can see swimmers in bright swimsuits, but in the dark pool switches to a night mode, and you can see water reflection which is created using optic fibers and neo pixels. 


I can see this scarf be worn in everyday life, as it is an accessory and can help to create a bright image. However, I mostly see it as a part of performance decorations for a small scene, where tiny  details can be seen. 

My expressive adjective is calmness. Looking at water is very relaxing and I wanted to recreate this vibe, when you get mesmerized by looking at light reflections, refractions on the water surface together with a bright blue color of the pool.

Night Pool is a mode of relax and calmness.

Parts list:

Adafruit Playground Circuit – 1;

DIY Sensor (2 pieces of conductive fabric  + conductive thread);

Alligator Clips for rapid prototyping ( replaced with the threads later);

Blue Tulle ( 1m);

Threads for the embroidery;


This project was lead by materials and my idea of making of a head accessory. I started with sketches of things I want to make, what interactions to include  and what materials I want to explore. 

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After Kate’s presentation, I got very interested in  optic fibers as a part of physical computing. Then, I decided to combine the fibers with tulle, as together they look like a solid material.

Combination of blue tulle, lights and optic fibers gave a strong association with enlightened water during the night, with glowing reflections. Also, I enjoyed working with embroidery during previous projects, so I decided to embroider the swimmers, so the scarf could be bright without lights as well. 

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I experimented with sanding optic fibers, so the lights could go through. This part was one of the most challenging. First, I tried manual sanding and picked 3000 grains of sanding paper. But, when I sanded material manually, I assume, I broke fiberson certain parts, so a crucial part of material did not work properly when it was connected to neopixels. Then, I found out that I can sand using a special electronic sander. It allowed me to sand a bunch of cut optic fibers at one time. Automatic process kept the feature of the optic fiber to glow and also reduced the amount of wasted material.

After I tested optic fiber strings  on their ability to glow in the dark, I moved to the embroidery part. Inspiring by synchronized swimmers’ compositions I did a pencil sketch and then stitched it to the tulle. Then I made the embdroidery using bright simple colors like orange, pink, yellow, blue, green. I liked the contrast of these bright colors and light blue tulle. 


The next step was to knit the optic fibers strings and tulle piece. I made a few nodes of optic fibers and connected them with neo pixels using double sided tape, so I could see them while knitting. 

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The lights are activated with the diy sensor made of conductive fabric located on the corners of the scarf: when you put these corners together, the light mode changes and shows the waves and movements of the pool.



Working on the code was not complicated. I preferred to concentrate on making part. Also, water can be simply seen through blue and white colors. I did some tests with a lights combination, I found a light  animation code online, but did not manage to make it work with Arduino Library. Therefore, I came back to 2 modes: simple blue, and combination of blue, green and white ( when sensor is activated) .


One of the goals was to make an object which works, can be worn and makes me satisfied with the work. I kept it simple but bright. I  enjoyed working with optic fibers and its effect. This project actually looks like I imagined in my head in the beginning. 


Another step is to make code give a feeling of movements and waves and make it work on Arduino platform. 

Project Context:

David Hockney

David Hockney’s paintings were my main inspiration and reference for this project. He also was fascinated by water reflections, its colour and the ways they can be shown. His paintings Schwimmbad Mitternacht and Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures) also represent two different modes: day and night, swimming in the pool and observing it. I took these two modes and transferred them for my project: you only see water when it is dark and you see swimmers during the day.

When intense sunlight hits water it reflects in sensuous curves, wobbles off ripples and flickers against a serene surface, in ways that present the artist with remarkable challenges, as Hockney has explained: ‘In the swimming pool pictures, I had become interested in the more general problem of painting the water, finding a way to do it. It is an interesting formal problem; it is a formal problem to represent water, to describe water, because it can be anything. It can be any colour and it has no set visual description.’


 (Paper Pool 11), 1978


Portrait of an Artist (Pool With Two Figures) (1972),

Maria Svabrova

Maria Svabrova is a Slovakian artist who captures swimmers in the pool creating various colourful compositions. Her works picture a different pool, usually built in the Socialist Era, in various locations in Slovakia. My wearable is a scarf which is traditionally worn by grandmothers ‘babushkas’. At this point, I also was inspired by soviet aesthetics and they ways I can recreate it today. I find it very interesting to take soviet visuals and put them into a modern reality. Maria takes photos of the swimmers in the space of old pools, while I replaced the old pool by a symbol of that era – babushka’s scarf. What is more,  adding physical computing to this scarf makes it very futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. On the one hand, it looks back at the past and the soviet aesthetics, but on the other hand, there are lights and imprecation, which creates a look of babushkas of the future.


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“1970s : Paintings : Works: David Hockney.” 1970s : Paintings : Works | David Hockney, www.hockney.com/works/paintings/70s.
Mariasvarbova.com. “SWIMMING POOL.” Maria Svarbova, www.mariasvarbova.com/swimmingpool-gnkl.
Sperling, Matthew. “The Pull of Hockney’s Pool Paintings.” Apollo Magazine, 13 Nov. 2018, www.apollo-magazine.com/david-hockney-pool-paintings/.
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