Thursday, November 5, 2015

Making Wearable Tech Fashionable: A Techie Fashion Show at IU's Statewide IT Conference

E-textiles and wearable tech are starting to become commonplace at Indiana University! Last month IU's Statewide IT conference, an annual conference for IT professionals from across the state, hosted a Wearable Tech Fashion Show for the first time, featuring sparkling skirts, light-up shoes, and even an illuminated umbrella!

Statewide IT's Wearable Tech Fashion Show. Image source: UITS Facebook page

The event was completely independent of us educational e-textile researchers, which goes to show how far these ideas are spreading and being taken up across campus. It was a collaboration between two staff members from IU's University Information Technology Services (UITS) and a fashion design class in the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, as part of UITS's new Wearable Technology Working Group--another site to watch for socially relevant developments in e-textiles and other wearable tech!

The UITS member who led the event was Nitocris Perez, an Emerging Technology Specialist in UITS's Applied Technologies Lab, and a friend of both our Creativity Labs in the School of Education and of IU's Center of Excellence for Women in Technology. She emphasized how innovations in wearable tech these days are cool--but do not necessarily always look like things she'd want to wear. Like us, she believes e-textiles and other wearable tech that can be easily integrated into fashionable apparel is a way to broaden participation in technology and broaden the horizons of the very nature of technology in our society.

For more, check out this article from IU's IT newsletter, and this video segment from WISH-TV 8!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Creativity Labs: Bookmarks and Puppets Come to Life at Public Libra...

Creativity Labs: Bookmarks and Puppets Come to Life at Public Libra...: This summer, Creativity Labs members Verily Tan, Naomi Thompson, Tony Phonethibsavads, Anna Keune, and Sophia Bender have offered two sewin...

Creativity Labs: World Children's Festival @ Washington, D.C. (Jul ...

Creativity Labs: World Children's Festival @ Washington, D.C. (Jul ...: The World Children's Festival is an annual celebration of creativity, diversity and unity, with participants from all over the world. ...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creativity Labs: Gathering STEAM: E-textiles at South Fayette School District's STEAM Innovation Summer Institute

Creativity Labs: Gathering STEAM: E-textiles at South Fayette School District's STEAM Innovation Summer Institute:

South Fayette School District in the Pittsburgh area has been a hub for educational innovation for several years now, pioneering a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Studio model and hosting the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute to train educators to spread these innovations to their own classrooms. The Creativity Labs has worked with them before (links) to provide professional development in e-textiles. This summer, we were happy to do so again as part of our summer service activities.

To learn more about the awesome e-textile projects pictured here, read the rest of the post below!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A brief history of yarn in video games

A charming game called Unravel stood out at E3 2015. But before that, there was the Nintendo Knitting Machine, and you've been missing out.
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert once wrote that he would rather take up knitting than review video games—as though the two were mutually exclusive. Lately, it seems like that couldn't be further from the truth. 
At E3 this week, Electronic Arts unveiled a lovely game called Unravel, where you play as a tiny yarn character that slowly unravels as it moves through the level. Although that sounds a little like a metaphor for the slow but inexorable march that we are all taking towards death, in Unravel this thread is a versatile tool you can be use as a climbing rope, grappling hook, trampoline, fishing line, and whatever else the game can imagine. Enjoy the earnest trailer that produced many wistful sighs and misty eyes:
There have been more than a few yarn-based video games over the last several years, from the Little Big Planet series (which stars a knit doll called Sackboy) to the recent rash of Nintendo games like Kirby's Epic Yarn and the upcoming Yoshi's Wooly World. And while this uptick in might be partly attributable to the more recent popularity of amigurumi, yarn and knitting has made their way into video games since the very beginning. Let's take a look back.


This is surely one of the greatest gaming artifacts of the 1980s: a magazine advertisement for a device that would allow you to knit sweaters with your Nintendo Entertainment System. In it, Nintendo claims that video game knitting is "just one more example of the innovative thinking that keeps Nintendo on the cutting edge of video technology," noting that no other game systems—not one!—have knitting peripherals. This is indeed true. Ultimately, the Nintendo Knitting machine was sounique that it was never actually manufactured.


The Nintendo Knitting Machine should not be confused with I Am a Teacher: Super Mario Sweater, a game designed for a Japan-only '80s console called the Famicom Disk System. It allowed players to create pixel art patterns for sweaters, although you still had to knit them by hand.


Created by LucasFilm Games and Brian Moriarty back in 1990, Loom was one of the great works of the early adventure game era—and it revolved entirely around weaving. Rather than a text parser or a traditional inventory system, you solved puzzles by playing magical four-note tunes that weave "subtle patterns of influence into the very fabric of reality." There's a giant and all-powerful loom at the heart of it all, and at one point it tears apart the world and everyone turns into swans and flies into space. It's weird as hell, and I love it.

More at

Monday, June 15, 2015

Impressive Crocheted Leaf Sculptures by Susanna Bauer

To truly appreciate the delicacy of Susanna Bauer‘s leaf sculptures, think of crunching a dead leaf in your hand, how it disentigrates into dust with the slightest effort. To work with dry and fragile leaves as a medium for crochet seems nearly impossible, but Baur somehow manages it with ease, turning leaves into cubes, tunnels, and geometric patterns with techniques that might be more appropriate for durability of leatherwork. She shares about her process:
There is a fine balance in my work between fragility and strength; literally, when it comes to pulling a fine thread through a brittle leaf or thin dry piece of wood, but also in a wider context – the tenderness and tension in human connections, the transient yet enduring beauty of nature that can be found in the smallest detail, vulnerability and resilience that could be transferred to nature as a whole or the stories of individual beings.
Bauer has a new exhibition of work at Lemon Street Gallery in Cornwall, England through June 27th, and you explore a bit more on Facebook

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Three-Dimensional, LED-Lit Dance Costume that Exposes the Performer — Or Hides Her

The dancer Emily Smith demonstrates several of the many possible ways of wearing the artist Elizabeth Tolson's performance-art dress. Smith will perform a work titled "In the Presence of Myself" that incorporates the dress tonight at a show in Bushwick.Credit Michael Kosciesza
There are more than seven different ways to wear the artist Elizabeth Tolson’s new performance-art dress, which features a stunning three-dimensional, expandable LED-lit attachment. At the debut of “In the Presence of Myself,” a performance premiering this weekend at Bushwick’s Open Studios, the dancer Emily Smith will demonstrate them all. Tolson built the costume’s focal point by crafting rings with plastic boning. When Smith pushes the exoskeleton out, the viewer is forced to see how it juts out, like a tiered wedding cake; but when she pulls it back in, it collapses flat against the body. Tolson also tucked a hundred lights inside the sack dress’s silver and white sheer cotton, and the layers of fabric diffuse the battery-powered LEDs and illuminate Smith with a fuzzy white-yellow glow. “I wanted the lights to shine toward the body instead of out,” Tolson says.
Tolson and Smith, who met at Alfred University, have both since moved to New York, where they now regularly swap critiques of each other’s work; when it came time to bring her dress design to life, Tolson turned to Smith. “We have similar thoughts about making the body the centerpiece in different atmospheres, and that’s where our voices cross over,” Smith says. At the show, Smith will be changing the dress’s shape in slow motion as she navigates through the audience. “It’s instinctual,” Smith says. “We talked about how having the light on my stomach feels vulnerable, but when I move it onto my head, it’s almost like I absorb the light so I make more powerful movements.”
The piece, Tolson explains, explores self-image; though it’s certainly innovatively designed, to simply call the dress “wearable tech” doesn’t capture its expression of the inner conflict between self-acceptance and shame. “I keep thinking of it as the elephant in the room,” Tolson says. “By using the dress as an object to discuss how you become obsessed over a certain aspect of yourself that makes you self-conscious, it shows the beauty behind those imperfections.” Tolson and Smith discussed how to transform the dress into a tool for self-exposure — or as a shield, albeit one that still lets you glimpse the woman underneath in a flesh-colored bodysuit. It even stretches enough for Smith to crawl inside and cover her whole body — “like a turtle shell,” Tolson explains. “If people are staring, the dress can convey that need to hide.”
“In the Presence of Myself” takes place Friday, June 5 at 7 pm at The Loft Show, 248 McKibbin Street, Apt. K, Brooklyn,


Friday, June 5, 2015


BMBF-Projekt „MediaArt@Edu“
Eine Ausstellung des Institut für Berufspädagogik am KIT
11.06.2015 OUTER SPACE
12.06.2015 OUTER SPACE
13.06.2015 OUTER SPACE
Interaktive Textilien, auch als „Smart Textilien“ oder „Wearables“ bezeichnet, bilden eine neue Generation in Kleidung und Accessoires eingebetteter Mikrocomputer. Sie bieten viele Möglichkeiten der kreativen Auseinandersetzung mit so genannten „intelligenten“ Medien, die ihre Umgebung mit Hilfe von Sensoren wahrnehmen können. Verwendet werden z.B. leitfähiges Garn und Stoff, Sensoren, Motoren, LED und einnähbare Platinen (Arduino LilyPad - Technologie). Smart Textilien stellen eine Verknüpfung zwischen sinnlich-haptischem Material, präziser Computersteuerung und kreativem Konzept her. Neue Schnittstellen – genäht, gewebt oder gestickt – werden zwischen Körper, Bekleidung und Umgebung erlebbar. In der Ausstellung haben Sie die Möglichkeit, diese Textilien kennen zu lernen und mit den anwesenden Projektbetreuerinnen zu diskutieren.

11.06: 15.00 - 20.00 Uhr (Vernissage)
12.06: 18.00 - 20.00 Uhr
13.06: 17.30 - 19.30 Uhr

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Project Jacquard

Project Jacquard makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms. Everyday objects such as clothes and furniture can be transformed into interactive surfaces.
Read more here

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Creativity Labs: Summer 2015 Service Kick-Off!

Originally posted here: Creativity Labs: Summer 2015 Service Kick-Off!

 A post by Tony Phonethibsavads, Sophia Bender, Anna Keune  

This past Friday, we hosted a hands-on exploratory workshop at Clifty Creek Elementary School’s STEM Fair in Columbus, IN. Given the drop-in and walk-by atmosphere of a fair, we wanted to offer a project that is easy to create but at the same time offers all of the circuitry learning benefits of the electronic textiles toolkit. We offered one of the many e-textiles activities documented in our colleague Leah Buechley’s book Sew Electric, the light-up bookmark, and another project we made up on the fly while preparing for the workshop, a light-up bow. However, much of the preparation was done in coordination with the Clifty Creek Elementary School teachers, who also provided materials for the workshop, including electronic components and crafting supplies.

E-textiles are electronics embedded into clothing, accessories, or other wearables. In the Creativity Labs, we like to use the LilyPad Arduino toolkit, which includes sewable LEDs, battery holders, and microcontrollers that can all be connected with conductive thread. This provides opportunities to combine both high- and low-tech, both crafting and electronics, and represents an unusual and very powerful approach to learning circuitry and programming that tends to be more inviting to girls. The Creativity Labs is always happy to share e-textile workshops with our partners!
The Clifty Creek STEM Fair was an informal after-school field day, kind of like an open house, for families and people of all ages to enjoy the pre-Memorial Day Friday. Throughout the fair, barbecue grills, face painting, and moonbounces gave the festival a true Mini Maker Faire vibe, that was sprinkled with science explorations at every corner of the schoolyard and house. The focus of the Fair was many science-themed activities, such as our e-textiles workshop.
E-sewers hard at work!
Our workshop was set up in Ms. Lucas’s 3rd-grade classroom. To create light-up bookmarks, we provided various materials to the visitors of our table. These included fabric strips, felt stickers, bows, conductive thread, sewable LEDs, sewable battery holders, and batteries. Many children gathered at various tables with their parents and embarked on highly imaginative creations, which included various patterns with stripes, hearts, and happy animals. The children were captivated by the lights sewn into the fabric, but naturally, many lacked experience with sewing and needed assistance from adults. Thus, parents were highly involved; while children focused on the imagination, decoration, and connectivity of the circuits, any parents who were present primarily helped with the stitching and knot-tying.

The classroom setup
The drop-in nature of the workshop provided many interesting facilitation challenges. For instance, our workshop was very popular and attracted more youth than the two facilitators could address at the same time. Many participants were excited by the prospect of bookmarks that lit up, so they got ahead of themselves before one of the facilitators could provide instructions on the next step, and even made some mistakes when connecting the circuits. Backtracking was necessary, but this simply led to even deeper circuitry learning. Excited about the decorative possibilities, but confronted with limited time towards the end of the day, some of the children did not finish their e-textiles projects at the table. We provided them with little take-home bags filled with samples of conductive thread, a battery and some decorative craft materials. One of the mothers said that this might be a fun evening at home finishing the project together with her children. We hope to further explore how to improve facilitation of drop-in e-textile workshops.

Given this great start to the Creativity Labs' summer service activities, we are excited about the other upcoming opportunities to interact and share our learning with the local community in and around Bloomington, IN, and, in fact, throughout the country. Here is a list of some of the events we are looking forward to: