LED Heart Alpaca Bracelet by Hortensia Reyes


LED Heart Alpaca Bracelet by Hortensia


I love alpaca fibre, is soft, light, breathable and hypoallergenic. I weaved this bracelet while trying to learn how to weave. I live textile jewelry because wearing them are very comfortable, I made a necklace of alpaca fibre too.


Now I tried to incorporated lights to this bracelet to see how it looks.

In this project I used fairy light strip and shaped as a heart, I sewed these light on top with regular thread of the bracelet. The “heart” lights fade following a heartbeat and inside the “heart” there are three groups of blinking sewable LED lights. The LED lights blink at three different rates: slow, medium and fast blinking. The piece represents a beating, sparkling heart –a sign of love– and lighting is applied on top of an alpaca bracelet but I sewed these lights under the bracelet, then light come through the textile, I want to have a subtle light, not so intense. I like how the light were show all together.

The fairy light strip and each group of LED lights have its own connection to the Arduino Nano 33 IoT board. Each connection uses a different port on the Arduino board for the positive, that way the program can apply the corresponding effects and blinking or fading rates. The Arduino code combines the fading and blinking basic examples, but uses proportional refresh rates for fading and blinking, since multiples delays did not produce the desired effect (delays accumulate and fading and blinking became all too slow).

The piece is quite light, around 100g, which meets the weight wearability criteria for the wrist by Clint Zeagler’s video (Zeagler, 2018), which specifies under 0.5lb for this part of the body.

Since I started testing the circuits using the Arduino Nano 33 IoT, I learnt the final result did not meet the portability criteria to be strictly wearable. Perhaps the Arduino Nano 33 IoT was not the best board selection, because it has been designed to be used on a breadboard or a socket, not precisely a sewable board. I know the Adafruit’s “Circuit Playground Express” would have been a much better option, since it does not have pins and it has holes that can be used to be sewed on a piece of fabric. This board could have been powered with two 3V coin batteries, which would have been enough for low power lights like the ones I used, and this would have met the portability criteria for wearability. The most important for me doing this prototype was learnt how to do the connectivity, build circuits and try to use the Nano 33 IOT which I never used in my life.

Prototype Image 1

Detail Image 1

Detail Image 2

Prototype Image 2

Prototype Image 3
Part & Materials

Alpaca weaving bracelet
Full-size breadboard
Arduino Nano IoT 33
Through-Hole resistors
Conductive thread
Regular thread
USB cable
5 Pink LilyPad LED
2 White LilyPad LED
Fairy lights
Arduino Code

See: https://github.com/hreyes1965/Arduino/blob/main/FadeAndBlink.ino
Circuit Diagram

Below the circuit diagram. As you can see, there are three sets of LED lights inside the heart, this was made with the fairy light strip. Each set of LED lights as well as the fairy light strip have their own red wire (positive), which connects to a different port in the Arduino board, that way they can get different effects each.

Each red wire line does not touch each other, also red and black wires do not touch. We are using a USB portable charger showed on the diagram below to power this project, but for this project to be wearable we would probably have to use a set of coin batteries.

Testing my LED circuit

Demo Video


“Light-up LED Cuff / Bracelet With Magnetic Switch (e-textile)” (Dawson, 2017)
When I started with this project, I tried to find simple guidelines to understand how to connect and sew conductive thread to integrate into my textile (weaving). I found this helpful website, easy to follow and with clear directions, maybe too easy to understand because it was a project for primary school students, but it was good for my first prototype. I watched the video tutorial that help me on doing my sewing with the conductive thread. I recommend this to anybody who is pretty new on e-wearability.

“Making a Face Mask with ANIMATIONS!!” (Nedforge, 2020)
This was the design that inspired me for this project. Although I did not do a face mask and did not use the LED Matrix, which was built with individual addressable LED strips, this was an interesting project. I did not know the LED Matrix and the supporting software existed. On the down side, welding was required for this project and I do not have a soldering iron yet. The idea of light animation inspired me to use sewable lights in my bracelet. Maybe in my next project I could use a LED Matrix to create more light animations.
“Actualizer: LED Bracelets” (Actua Canada, 2016)
This was the terrible animation, because although was a simple project like the the first example “Light -Up Led Cuff” the explanation was not clear, the video helps but the explanation was unclear, the design was very sloppy and there is not a list of the material needed to make this project. I think is because the first example was address to school students the demonstration, video, photos and list of materials was clear like a lesson for students in the classroom which could be used for a school teacher to do this project in class.

Actua Canada; “Actualizers: LED Bracelets”. September 20, 2016. In: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc7uony7pYo

Dawson, Jill; “Light-up LED Cuff / Bracelet With Magnetic Switch (e-textile)”. 2017. In: https://www.instructables.com/Light-up-LED-Cuff-Bracelet-With-Magnetic-Switch-e-/

Nedforge; “Making a Face Mask with ANIMATIONS!!”. May 12, 2020. In: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNogUc4_8GM&feature=youtu.be

Zeagler, Clint; “Where to wear it”. July 15, 2018. In: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwRcPTddS0k&feature=youtu.be

Hat Studio

I became fixated on this idea of wearing my studio on my head as soon as Kate mentioned the prototype, and I set to work looking for inspiration which for me often comes from childhood memories:  In this case:  shutterstock_editorial_5851001a-1024x665

Inspector Gadget whose hat is a high tech studio,


Caps for Sale, a story about a hat peddler,


and Paddington Bear, who always has a sandwich in his hat!

I thought these responded nicely to Hannah Perner-Wilson’s observation that “the studio provides infrastructure, shelter, space” (https://canvascloud.ocadu.ca/courses/1337/modules/items/108615).  I also thought of this description as a state of mind, so part of my mobile studio is to identify what hours of the week I will use for prototyping projects (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday).

1. Space(s): The Studio

I am lucky to have a studio environment where I will be doing my prototyping work for this class.  This is a picture of my studio –


it is on the top (attic) floor of our house.  It’s cold up here so I often work with a heating pad and blanket on my knees in the winter.  The main space I work on is the table at the centre of the room.  I always clear it at the end of the day unless I need to leave something out, but I like walking into a fresh work space as it helps me clear my head.  I store my tools and materials along the walls on shelving and in containers and drawers.  Not pictured are drawers of pencils/paper/markers/paint and a craft cart with things like beading wire, and odd bits and bobs of materials I collect (or rather, can’t bring myself to throw out). 

I have a desktop monitor and laptop I will use for any digital prototyping.  I learned to use Fusion 360 for modelling last semester and got a little more comfortable with illustrator.  Photoshop is a go-to tool for collaging images for ideas too. 

I have a dressmakers dummy that I will use for prototyping also – and I have a lot of styrofoam heads around too – I’m anticipating I will focus on hats, shoes and bags as areas to explore, but I’m excited to see what other inspirations come up!

I also have an outdoor studio space out of the city on my family’s farm.  One of the projects I am working on there is a series of musical dolls (using old movements from music boxes).  


These dolls are on wheels and made of plaster with layers of organic material overtop of them.  I’m curious to play around with conductivity of materials to see what other forms of communication these dolls might be possible to make.  I working on one version there which is a doll/moveable studio/storage cart.  Pictured is a prototype which I plan to finish this summer in black carbon fibre stackable boxes (mouse proof!).


2. Things

New Parts:


Materials Arrived!  Arduino Nano IoT 33 with headers – includes wifi & bluetooth, Breadboard, Through hole resistors 220 and 10K ohm, 5mm LEDs assorted colours, USB portable charger, Micro usb charger, Velostat, Multimeter

In Transit!  Full rotation micro servo, Jumper wires 3” and 12”, Alligator clips, Alligator to Jumper cables, Stainless Conductive Thread, Conductive Fabric

Coming Soon!  More conductive thread options, Circuit Playground Express

Already Part of my Studio Environment:

img_4056img_4055 img_4054

Tools: Scissors, Utility Knife, Sewing Machine, Sewing needles, Knitting needles, Tape, Multiple glues: wood, fabric, instant, glue sticks + glue gun, Iron+ Ironing Board, Safety glasses and gloves

img_4065 img_4048

Materials: Multiple types of fabric:  wool, cotton, non fray, stretch fabrics, Old Shoes, Yarn, Papers and cardboard, Liquid latex, Various paints, Threads, Buttons and fasteners, Heat n’Bond, Copper wire, Chip Bags, Plant matter, Plaster Bandages, Artificial and real hair, Kombucha

At other studio location to be fetched if needed:  soldering iron , wire stripper, Various types of fibreglass fabrics and resin (in other studio), Raw kombucha scobbies

3. Systems

I addressed some of the storage system in the space section, and I will continue to use this organization for  tools and materials I already have.  So I focused the idea of a prototype on the new materials that are coming into the studio. While I wanted to make a hat, I realized that I need more information and familiarity with my tools and processes over the next weeks to make a functional one.  So I went to the location of my hat inspiration to rethink the wearable studio.  I carry alot of my tools between studios in bags/purses and canvas bags.  I have one bag in particular I picture would translate into a hat very well:

img_4060 img_4061

After receiving my first batch of new material today, I decided to keep the required tools and materials together in modular boxes that fit into a canvas bag.  In a class last semester I prototyped a hanger just for canvas bags.  I’ll use a large one I have for these materials, so that I can add to it and store prototypes in it over the course of the semester.  I will use my hanger prototype to keep the wearable studio bag hanging on the rack along with my wearable sculptures in progress you can see on the left side of the studio picture above.  Since I’m not planning to work outside of the studio environment (on a hike), the shoulder bag works well. 

img_1971 img_4083

I have a few clear plastic modular boxes I am picking up from the farm studio later this week.  I really like the clear boxes because it makes it easy to find what you’re looking for without having to open everything up.  But I don’t like to look at stacks of clear boxes so that’s why they are going into the bag!  As the weather warms up I will be spending more time at the farm studio, and I anticipate working on prototyping up there.  The bag will make it easy to move everything that I need at once without having to gather and pack up.  I also have doubles of alot of the studio tools like thread, needles, tape, scissors, papers, wire, sewing machine, fabrics etc… up there so I won’t include this in my moveable studio bag – just the electronic parts and materials which are new for me. This bag will then be moved along with my existing travel canvas bags.

Depending on the direction my making goes, I may be spending more time outside (especially with that multimeter to test conductivity of materials around the farm) So I was inspired to photograph a light vest I use alot on camping trips and hikes because of the two front pockets.  And felt in good company when I read about Jen Liu’s fly fishing inspired designs. 


4. Methods

I anticipate employing sewing – both hand stitching and machine sewing, knitting and crochet.  I am very excited to play around with the conductive threads.

I would like to try programming and using bluetooth either to play with light or sound. Circuit building and playing around with the breadboard

I anticipate also employing some techniques for making hard shapes for hat and shoe forms – like plaster, paper mache and fibreglassing for final pieces. 

All of these methods I can employ in my current studio space.

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