In the first lab I made my first felt. This is not the first fabric I’ve made. My grandmother taught me to knit a sweater when I was small. I ended up spending many hours and only had about 1/100 of the sweater presentable. This experience gave me a general impression about making fabric, which is hard.
This lab, however, changed my mind. It is easy and fun to do needle felting. And it is a very direct way to make patterns. Our goal was to make a piece of felt that can “talk,” which here means to add a LED on it for visual interaction. First, we needed fabrics. So, being divided into 2 groups, we felt a red fabric and a white one. First we gently pulled out small strings of fibers from the ball of wool and cover the felting sponge mat neatly with two layers of wool in interlacing direction, then we used needles to constantly to stab at the fluffy wool fibers in order to fix its shape on the sponge mat and make it a rough and very thin fabric. Next we made fabrics smaller and felt for the second round to make it thicker, more rigid. At last we felt some cute patterns on each piece of fabrics with different colors: a heart and a smiling face~
The fabrics were done, now we need to attach the electronic to it. And an essential step here is to do conductive felt. The conductive fibers are surprisingly soft and smooth. We felt it onto the wool without any difficulties, but the problems came when we tried to put two pieces together with a LED in between. First, the safety issue is important, as the wool will catch fire if it doesn’t play fairly with electricity, based on this, the connection needs special care. We need to examine it with special device before really connecting them together. From another perspective, on one hand you need it to be in the right direction when you put two pieces together, where we done it wrongly but it was easy to fix, on the other hand, as both material are soft and the conductivity of steel fibers depends on its density, which is sensitive to our touch and pressure. We spent some time debugging and it finally worked!
I really learned a lot as well as had great fun in this lab. I’m really looking forward to the next class.