eTextile Summer Camp

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A few weeks back I arrived safely home from what was an inspiring, fascinating thought provoking, and utterly delicious eTexiles Summer Camp. The camp was geared around eTextiles and soft-circuitry, and is an annual event for practitioners, artists, and researchers making work in those areas. Almost 40 of us camped out for a week in the French countryside. We were staying at Les Moulin de Paillard, a beautiful mill-turned-potters-studio-tuned-contemporary-art-space over looking a corner of the Loir, now run by artists Shelly and James. The week was was stacked full of geeking out on materials and processes, fascinating discussions with focus groups, workshops, huge dinners next to the river, chickens, much wine, new friendships, and bloom the cat.

I am going to attempt to briefly summarize some of what happened at the camp. If you are interested in finding out more about the camp in general, have a look at their site. Or you can see at the images on flickr in the links below.

1. Education Focus Group
For most of the camp I joined a group that focused on Educational Toolkits for eTextiles, I collaborated with Emilie, Anja, Lara, Zoe, Liza, and Wendy and we disused and shared our ideas around etextiles education.

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2. Kit of Process
Our group discussions lead us down the Kit of Process path: a kit that functions as a learning and teaching tool. It is not a “kit” in the traditional sense, as there are no components, but it is a kit in that it is a collection of parts that can be assembled to make something. We were specifically interested in process, not final outcomes, so when using the kit you would not be making a product, instead you are making “swatches” which are part of the process of making of a product (hence the name).

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The format of the kit would be an online library of resources, and through the process of making the kit, you are learning, and also developing a physical library of your own resources for teaching.

If you are interested in learning more about the education group, you can check our group post, which goes into much more detail and has lots of lovely pictures.

3. Human Breadboards
Human breadboards (HBs) grew out of the Kit of Process discussions. We didn’t have a lot of time to develop the idea, but the initial concept is that HBs are real-time-real-space prototyping tools that allow students to learn in context. eTextiles by nature is a spatial, environmental, and physical discipline, and we spent some time trying to understand how this translated to education tools.

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I’ve written a bit more about HBs here, and I am really interested in developing some of these ideas further.

4. Printing Galore
I was very inspired and fascinated by the techniques the print focus group were making. The image above shows some of their experiments.

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I tried out some tests using liquid crystal and thermochromatic, and really excited about integrating these techniques into some of my live animation work….but I am somewhat put off by the hefty price tag on a jar of this paint. May have to get a piggy bank. See more pics of the print room here.

5. Laser Looms
Zoe lead a wonderful weaving workshop using laser cut looms. Laser looms are an accessible way to make some lovely weaving quite quickly. The design is simple and can be reproduced by anyone in the world (providing you have some kind of CNC cutting device. See more image of the workshop here, and some of the looms I made at the Bristol hackerspace after the workshop here.

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