Monday, November 28, 2011

Visit to the Textile Museum at the Bank of Thailand

Textiles and the National Economy

Historically, textiles have been part of the revenue collected by the Thai monarchs from neighboring countries when they were under Thai rule such as Cambodia and Laos in the 15th and 19th centuries respectively. Tributes were also made to the monarchy in the form of textiles from provincial districts in Thailand which were called Muang. In turn, the Thai monarchs would reward their officers and noblemen with gifts of textiles, or even in lieu of their salaries. Particular textiles were designated to court use only, civil servants would be required to wear certain types of cloth to attend functions in the royal court, most of which they received from the monarch. Meanwhile, ordinary people wove their own fabric or exchanged textiles from neighbouring provinces. In the case of imported textiles, until the beginning of this century, the royal court controlled all imported textiles and arranged for certain qualities to be made available to the general public.
For more info go here

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Faraday Curtain by Loop.pH

Commissioned for Bloomberg Philanthropy by art and design agency Arts Co, "Waste Not, Want It" is a series of specially commissioned art and design projects made almost entirely out of Bloomberg's waste.

Design studio Loop.pH's "Faraday Curtain" is made from hundreds of metres of discarded electrical cable, stripped of its inner core and conductive shielding and rethreaded into an intricately laced textile mesh. The resultant ephemeral textile enclosure provides a soft and sheer shielding from electro magnetic fields.

Loop.pH worked with a team of lace-makers to develop a methodology to work with this non-standard material. Lacemaking is a highly complex and computational method of manipulating many fibres into a cloth and is a dying textile tradition in the UK.

Read more:

Upcoming Voodoo Doll Workshop with Catarina Mota on December 1st at Indiana University!

Soft Circuit Voodoo Doll Workshop

In this free workshop we'll cover the basics of soft circuits (materials and techniques) and then make folk art textile voodoo dolls whose eyes light up when punctured with a needle. All tools and materials (dolls, conductive spandex, conductive thread, etc.) will be provided. You may bring your own doll to modify, if you prefer!

Example dolls can be found at:

Catarina Mota |
Catarina is co-founder of openMaterials (a research group dedicated to collecting and sharing data on uses and production methods of materials), of altLab (Lisbon's hackerspace), of fabriCulture (a project dedicated to promoting open source digital fabrication and maker culture in general), and a member of NYCResistor. She's also a PhD student researching social, cultural and political aspects of open source hardware and digital fabrication, a visiting scholar at ITP-NYU, and a fellow of the National Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal. Her maker activities center mostly around smart materials and digital fabrication. More info at

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


On one of Barcelona’s cutest streets, (Doctor Dou), near one of the most perfect bakeries, (Reykavik), is a little store called Costura. Two friends decided that the city was in dire need of some serious sewing commodities and after much thought and care, their small dream was born. Asami and Sonia have created the perfect blend of quirky clothing, Japanese fabrics, sewing items, customizing kits and best of all, sewing machines that can be rented by the hour. As flats become smaller and smaller, there just isn’t any room (or money for that matter) to actually own a machine. Costura offers the perfect solution, just pop round and use one of their machines for a few hours.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Not All Arduino Uses are Created Equal: Context & Gender

The below article ran in the IEEE Spectrum Tech-Alert under the awful title, “With the Arduino, Now Even Your Mom Can Program.” The IEEE Spectrum editor immediately sent out an email retraction of the title as being offensive.
But even with the retraction, I don’t think that the piece adequately explores how different the populations are of Arduino users. The below picture is from Leah Buchele at this last May’s NCWIT Summit in NYC.

The graph on the left describes the gender makeup of the Arduino-using community. The graph on the right describes the gender makeup of the LilyPad-using community. The IEEE article simply describes the LilyPad as “waterproof.” Huh? Don’t they know about e-textiles? The red in the graphs are male, and the aqua are female. In statistics, this is called “inter-occular occlusion” — you don’t need a t-test, this just hits you between the eyes. Women like the LilyPad. The Arduino community has almost no women in it. The context matters.

If you’re going to make some crack about mothers programming, then you’d better speak to the significant gender issues. And if you’re going to write about Arduino, you should really know about the different communities. Arduino matters for women, because it led to LilyPad. Arduino itself plays no role in being a technology environment for mothers or just about any women at all. They’d better figure that out before they further explore “integrating it more deeply into the education system.”
To fuel greater adoption of Arduino, the team is exploring how to integrate it more deeply into the education system, from grade schools to colleges. Several universities, including Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, already use Arduino. Mellis has been studying how students and laypeople take to electronics in a series of workshops at the MIT Media Lab. Mellis invites 8 to 10 people to the lab, where they’re given a task to complete over the course of a day. The projects have included building iPod speakers, FM radios, and a computer mouse using some of the same components that Arduino uses.

But spreading the Arduino gospel is only part of the challenge. The team must also keep up with demand for the boards. In fact, the Arduino platform doesn’t consist of one type of board anymore—there’s now an entire family of boards. In addition to the original design, called the Arduino Uno, the new models include a more powerful board called the Arduino Mega, a compact board called the Arduino Nano, a waterproof board called the LilyPad Arduino, and a recently released, Net-enabled board called the Arduino Ethernet.