Open Source Embroidery at mocfa.org

Unfortunately I missed and probably would have anyway, but allow me to regret that Open Source Embroidery closed a few days ago at The Museum of Folk Art & Craft in San Francisco. Fortunately, not only do museums keep online archives, but they are now producing marvelous videos that help alleviate one’s disappointment.

This show was of particular interest to me because of Leah Buechley’s e-textile work, which includes the goal of promoting math and science education. I first learned of LB through an article in Volume 1 of Craft: that first appeared in 2006. I was living in Boulder, CO at the time, and was thrilled to discover that LB was in the CS doctoral program at the U of CO. I decided to track her down. I had worked in the women in engineering program (2001-2004; now BOLD) and environmental engineering (2004-2006), so I knew about the Discovery Learning Center and what an accessible place it is.

Leah was interested in meeting local weavers and textile artists and teaching them the basics of creating LED patterns on wearables. The Handweavers Guild of Boulder hosted a presentation and there was a great deal of interest from the group. Unfortunately the date/time didn’t come together for a workshop and Leah went on to an assistant professorship at MIT’s Media Lab. Before she left I did take the time to visit Leah at the Craft Technology Lab at CU and practice soldering a few of the LED “sequins” together so that I could try a few designs on my own. I’m sorry to say my experiments are still packed away at the moment.

A little later, Becky Stern published her  LilyPad Arduino embroidery on craftzine; her piece, “A Tribute to Leah Buechley” appeared in the Open Source Embroidery show. There are a number of places to visit if you would like to try the tech-nique/nology yourself:

straight to the source: http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/grad_work/diy/diy_tank.html

a simpler project, with step-by-step video: http://sternlab.org/2009/11/ledsewing/

For lots more inspiration, visit the high low tech projects at MIT: http://hlt.media.mit.edu/projects.html

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