Curiosities of paper circuitry

I’ve made a thing.

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It is part of Jie Qi’s research for her PhD at the MIT Media Lab into the way in which artists and makers approach circuitry in a creative way. We were given these materials to play with:

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And made a big mess.

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It’ll be on display in Boston in the summer. Here it is in action:

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Ideo Residency

All the way back in April I made this rather fun “concept” film about how blooming wonderful our hands are, and the absence of this wonder when using a phone.

The film was part of an application for the Ideo Fortnight residency. And low and behold the lovely folk of Ideo liked my ideas, and I was selected to be one of the Artist in residence in Ideo’s London office.

I was the fourth and final artist to be part of the studio last July (the other artists were Alan, Jacob, and Natsai). And although I loved every-designery-minute of the fortnight, it was incredibly challenging. Through the input of the studio, and (somewhat unfair?) pressure I put on myself, I achieved more that I thought would be possible in 2 weeks.

I spent 2 weeks working on some ideas gearing around storytelling, books, and embedded technology that I have been tinkering with for a few years now -some of which I presented at BV studio back in 2012. In the end I made a really lovely book that tells stories by connecting to a phone (or this this case a tablet), and we had a wrap party (which included lots of pizza, beer, and interactive edible music) to share the ideas we played with over the fortnight. There is loads of room for development and I am working on the next phase of this concept. More details and picture of the process can be found on the Fortnight micro site.

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Testing and developing ideas with the wonderful and lively Ideo team.

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Small prototypes of the pages

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The book unfolds like a paper theatre

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Device in place and the pages trigger animations to tell the story.

All images by Alex Whiting

Paper Switches

Series of paper switches I designed for the second part of the e-luminated paper circuits workshop at SFCB. I used the Silhouette to pre-cut paper samples that students could use in the workshop to learn about some of the possibilities.sampleThe sampler as constructed by one of the class participants
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Diagram of the circuit.

Book Club of California

This week I had the pleasure to present some of my books at a public talk for the Book Club of California. The club, which has been in San Francisco for about 100 years, is on the 5th floor of a commercial building a stone’s throw away from Chinatown. Walking into the space is kind of like going back in time. There were columns painted gold, a roman block print frieze ran above the picture rail, and various glass cases filled with special edition books framed the room. (of course!). It was a very nice place to be indeed. I talked about shadow books: about the process, materials, and about screens and the death of the book.

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Oh look that’s me at the front! My book wonderful arts instructor, Grendl Lofkst, took this picture from the back -it was quite the bibliophilic crowd.
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Some of my books -I always feel a bit strange about displaying my work like this, as it is intended to be played with, or as part of a workshop. After the talk I encouraged people to handle them.
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This woman got really into handling the book!
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This was the sample circuit that the woman in the picture above was playing with -and it is really addictive to play. Must make this into a book soon!
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The other speakers -it was a fun evening and great to meet other folks making books!

e-luminated books part 2

This weekend we ran part 2 of the e-luminated books workshop at San Francisco Center for the book. This part was focused on interactivity -embedding sensors and switches into books, as wells as designing programs for the Attiny85. It was a lot of fun and will be happening again in June! If you haven’t taken Part 1, not to worry we’ll be running another workshop in May too.

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Circus-y disco e-luminated book


Quite a long title for a tiny weeny book.

This one was rather wonderful to make, and was programmed using a simple Arduino blinky pattern and the teeny-weeny-ATtiny.
(so teeeeeeny)

Here is the process:
All the layers

putting the pages together

The lighting

The control -including wonderful paper battery holder curtsy of Natalie Freed and Jie Qi

Getting ready for the show

Programmed chip to fit in the socket. So tiny *soooooo tiny* ATtiny

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Yay. Let’s have a circus horse-y papery party disco.

San Francisco Center for the Book

We held our second e-luminated book workshop at the SFCB this weekend. It was a really lovely and creative group -they experimented with light and switches and made some really beautiful tunnel books in a very short time.

We’ll be teaching the same class again in the new year, and will also be teaching a more advanced class –E-luminated Books II: Switch, Sense, Choreograph– which focuses on control (using ATtiny microcontrollers), animation, and interactivity.

Here are a few of the wonderful books made:


Nif embedded her screen prints and made curved circuitry with finely cut copper tape.


Kate had the most AMAZING Japanese hole puncher. And created atmospheric scenes, with light, shadow, and recycled papers



Felicia cut beautifully intricate layers to make very delicate books.

Jessi was experimenting with all kinds of materials, including prismatic plastics and moving parts -it was very inspiring!


And Liza created this wonderful animated meteor shower.