Arduino on Fabric: Night Light Pillow

Vision:

A pillow that doubles as a nightlight. If the user hugs the pillow, the pillow will illuminate and frighten all the potential monsters away. Once the user falls asleep (ideally not on top of the pillow), the pillow will shut off and save batt

ery. We chose red because red lights are shown to help people fall asleep (verses blue), and we thought a heart would be endearing.

Step one: Starting Simple

In our project, the pressure sensor acts as a type of switch. For the first prototype, we used an LED and simply tried to make it blink.

Step two: Fading Under Pressure

It was time take it up a step and to integrate the pressure sensor and LED strip. First, we began with the pressure sensor and fading an LED. In order to fade, we had to turn the analog input (the pressure detected by the pressure sensor) into the digital output (the brightness of the LED). We also became aware of the fact that fading an LED is just an illusion, and that fading of an LED is actually faked with pulse width modulation, which creates an analog-like output with digital values.

Then came the LED strip. We first decided on an LED strip instead of a few LEDs because we wanted our pillow to to glow like a nightlight, instead of just light up in a few designated locations. We soon were awakened to how difficult using LED strips can be. The first thing we learned, was that LED strips need great amounts of power. As much as we wanted our pillow to not strangle our users in the night, this prototype pillow would have to be plugged in in order to light. However, we still needed the 5V from the Arduino, so in addition to plugging our pillow in to power up the LED strip, we also needed a power source for the Arduino itself. In the future, we would prefer to add a battery to the Arduino to power the 5V, instead of having to plug the Arduino into the computer to get that power. We also discovered how to use a transistor, where one leg is the base, one is the collector, and one is the emitter. We connected the collector to the negative end of the LED strip, which in this case is the R strip that we wanted to light. This was because we discovered that the LED RGB strips shared a common ground, not a common power. Apparently every LED strip is slightly different, so discovering this was vital to our project. The transistor worked at the intermediary between the pressure sensor and the LED, making sure that the fading worked. In addition, soldering to an LED strip is a struggle in itself, because of how flexible the strip can be and what little space you have to solder onto. This became the source of quite a few soldering problems early on.

Let’s Take a Trip Down Code Road:

In the code, we first initialize what pins we are using. The buttonPin is 0, and the ledPin is 9. We set the buttonState and mapped_value to 0 as global variables so that we can change it later on. In the setup, we designate which pins will be output (led brightness), and input (pressure). We also start the serial monitor.

In the loop, we set the buttonState to read the state of the buttonPin. This code was originally borrowed from the fade example from Arduino, where the variables were previously named. If we were moving forward, we would definitely rename the variables so that they were a little clearer. Normally, pressureValue is binary (especially in cases with a switch). In our case, it’s analog, since the value pressureValue that comes from the pressure sensor is not 0’s and 1’s, but instead a value between 0 and 1023. First we read from the sensorPin the pressure detected by the pressure sensor, and set it to pressureValue. We then map the values collected from the analogRead. Since the range for the pressure sensor is between 0 and 1023, and the range for the LED is between 0 to 255, we reset the values collected from the pressure sensor to values that fit in the range of the LED brightness. Then, send our mapped value, or the value that can be read by the LED to the ledPin, so that the LED reflects the value collected from the pressure sensor.

Fabric Foundations

Ben did an absolutely fantastic job at designing and sewing the heart. We used a t-shirt from the material room to ensure that we were reusing fabric and not being wasteful. We also found an extra pillow, from which we reused the stuffing for our project. The letters were laser-cut from felt, and helped to offer a bit of guidance on what the intended interaction with the pillow was.

 

Soldering

Initially, we planned to solder everything onto a perforated board. However, once we learned that it was unnecessary to undertake such a feat, we left our project within the breadboard. We soldered additional wires to the pressure sensor (since we aren’t allowed to put the pressure sensor into the board).

 

Problems

Most of our major problems stemmed from the LED strip. Due to its needy power-hungry nature, plugging the pillow was a hassle. Then, fading the lights with the transistor was something that wasn’t too easy to figure out. Finally, our main problem became that the LED strip did not want to bend. Although it bent at first, after a few more tries of having the LED strip inside the pillow, we discovered that parts of the LED strip would not light if the strip was bent in a particular manner. Our LED strip malfunctioning became the default for our strip, and we started realizing that perhaps several LEDs would have been a better decision.

Video of the LED strip being fussy and not cooperating.

 

Conclusion/Findings

LED strips are great, but also very difficult to use. They require large amounts of power, and are not easy to solder to. Since strips can vary, the RGB connectors can either share common ground, or common power. Moreover, they do not light if twisted in very slight angles. Overall, LED strips are not meant for soft circuits, and I would not recommend them to anyone else in the future in this class.

const int sensorPin = 0;
const int ledPin = 9;

int pressureValue = 0;
int ledValue = 0;


void setup() {
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT); // make the pins output and input
  Serial.begin(9600);
  
  

}

void loop() {
  pressureValue = analogRead(sensorPin);

  ledValue = int(map(pressureValue, 0, 1023, 0, 255));

  Serial.println(ledValue);

  analogWrite(ledPin, ledValue);

}

Illustrator Toy

Here is how I made Calvin the Cactus come to life!

First, I sketched out what my cactus would look like

 

I then started with illustrator, making basic shapes and resorting to the pen tool when necessary.

Next, came the mugshot-style versions of Calvin! With guidelines, I made sure that he was aligned properly

Finally, I made a few other versions! A sick and in-love Calvin! All ready for potential manufacturing (maybe)!

And here Calvin is with pantone colors!

“Objectified” and “Toys from Trash for Learning”

In the documentary Objectified, two things that stood out most to me were the idea of democratic design, and sustainable design. I thought about all of the nice things that are sold in the MOMA and Cooper Hewitt Store, and I was instantly reminded of how expensive they are. Once, I purchased a glasses case that folds up into a prism-shape and closes with a magnet. When the case is not in use, the case folds in half and the magnet once again keeps everything in place. My dad really happened to like the case, but when I tried to look for a similar one online, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I couldn’t even find the original that I bought at the store months before. While I support designers making a living off of their designs, I think that if you really believe in design for bettering the lives of people, you should believe in trying to better the designs of as many people as possible. Better design should be something that every benefits from, not just a select few.

The other story that really stood out to me most in the documentary was the story of the toothbrush that ended up on the beach. A few years ago, I went on a family vacation with my parents to Belize. I remember looking at the beautiful beaches next to the hotel, and enjoying the water. One day, we decided to walk a little further down the beach to see what else we could find. Less than a mile away, we ended up on a path covered in trash. I had never seen so much debris before. All around us lay plastic bottles, towels, just anything imaginable. To see a place so beautiful littered like that was heartbreaking. Listening to a designer talk about their impact on the environment was very interesting to me. Designers create, they build, but I had never seen a designer talk about the life span of a product, or the inevitability of it. As average people, most of us consume and contribute to the trash on a regular basis, rarely taking into account how we affect the world around us. In recent years, I’ve noticed more and more eco-friendly designs that have been introduced through social media. I saw a video about a water capsule that completely dissolves in your mouth as soon as it bursts, and spoons that are made out of a hard, wheat substance that can be eaten or easily decomposed. Out of curiosity, I was looking for more sustainable design and found this company: http://tomorrowmachine.se/#This too shall pass. It’s clear that designers are trying to tackle the problem of sustainability in design, but how can we make design like this the standard? How can we mass produce objects that are well designed and safe for the environment at a rate that can actually make a difference? Will plastic manufacturers put up a fight? I’m not sure what the answers to these questions are just yet, but I am eager to see how we can make a future of sustainability come true.

 

Listening to Avrind Gupta’s talk, I at first thought of how inventive and creative Gupta is to reuse items to create toys and learning objects. From an adult perspective, it seems so impressive. But if anyone has ever watched children play, it is very apparent that children come up with multiple uses for things quite naturally. A chair can be a spaceship, a fork can be a shovel. And although children without guidance will not learn what a polygon is, they can learn by doing and inventing on their own. I think Gupta’s talk was very interesting, but it seemed less about using trash and more about what can be done with little for children. This begs the question whether or not we need to create toys for children? Can we give them modified everyday objects instead of ever heading into ToysRUs? Do parents or teachers have time to assemble objects that allow for play and learning? Children’s toys seem like such an easy thing to design, but making a toy educational and enjoyable is a feat in its own. Gupta’s talk touches lightly on using trash to make toys, but it doesn’t touch at the root of the problem. Creating millions of plastic toys every year creates great amounts of waste. Instead of creating toys from trash, shouldn’t we be trying to create objects that don’t become trash? While I thought Gupta’s talk was very interesting, I couldn’t help but think that assuming we have trash is something we should try to change. His viewpoint may factor in the financial situation of his audience as well. While I think that toy manufacturing is where the change needs to happen, children that Gupta may be teaching might not have money to spend on toys. As a result, toys from trash is essential to their learning and to their childhood.

Week 3 – Crocheting & Soft Circuits

In week 3, we learned to crochet. I used to crochet when I was 6 or 7, when my grandma taught me how to do the simple stitch. In church, I’d sit there with a ball of yarn and my crochet needle. Weeks later, I’d have a full ball of crocheted string, but no blanket.

Finally learning how to build on the first stitch was a lot of fun for me. Although I hadn’t crocheted in years, muscle memory kicked in and I started crocheting away. I started to get confused when I got to the circular part though. I hadn’t realized how much of a mental exercise crocheting is, just because you have to remember to count stitches and which stitch you last left off on. Since I have a terrible short-term memory, this became a struggle. I also still struggle with reading the patterns, but that’s definitely something that I can work on in the future.

Sight Story

The Premise:

The dreaded 404 error. You’re on a mission. You’re on your way. You’re ready to go, and bam: you’ve hit a roadblock. The infamous 404 error, keeping us from accessing the pages we need, the pages we want, the pages we deserve. What can we do about it? Absolutely nothing.

You feel helpless, frustrated, confused. What is this text at the bottom? What does Apache mean? Why is there so much senseless text? What does a 404 error even mean when it says, “Not Found?” Is there some secret stash of web pages that we have to “find” that suddenly is not accessible? Is the web page lost? The regular person may not look far into the 404 error, but that is exactly why I wanted to look into it. For such a common computer error that we fail to look into, the error is a source of great frustration and discontent among users. Furthermore, it is representative of the human relationship with technology that we share and attempt to work with in our daily lives.

The What and Where

A T-shirt and an embroidery machine. 404 Errors are almost exclusively restrained to the computer screen. They lay there flat, in the default Times New Roman font you find in your first “Hello World” page. Void of CSS and all styling, the error message stands unmoving on the blank canvas of your screen. But to take the error out of context, to give it some depth, apply it somewhere else, would make people think about it. It’s recognizable, and it appears across all devices, regardless of operating system or web browser. It’s a common experience we World Wide Web users share, and one we have been sharing for a while.

Another reason I was eager to embroider was because I feel like embroidery carries a certain weight to it (both physically and metaphorically). People pay extra to get tote bags and jackets embroidered with their monograms. We often find embroidery as branding patches on clothing, but companies often opt for the cheaper and easier appliqués for text and designs. Choosing embroidery assigned the error message importance in a world where it’s often ignored or overlooked. I also came to realize why embroidery is usually so expensive or special, since my project had so much difficultly that I seriously questioned my use of embroidery. Another additional meaning behind the use of embroidery that elaborates on what I mentioned in class in response to Cheryl’s piece, was that embroidery is often seen as a woman’s hobby. My grandmother set me up with many a needlepoint kit when I was very young, since she thought that every young girl should know how to embroider. In the tech space, the lack of women still astounds me. Placing an image representative of technology in a space traditionally represented by woman also shows another step that was taken to call attention to the error message and where it is usually depicted.

The Knitty Gritty (Just kidding, it’s embroidery not knitting)

 

I first began by testing. I first tested on my shirt by using white thread on the white shirt. I used some quick text that said “hi” on the bottom corner, and I came to realize that my shirt was too stretchy for the hoop. Although the text was legible, the fabric puckered and folded underneath the pressure of the stitches. I then attached some fusable, and then tested some text out on another fabric. I first began by importing text from illustrator, but the letters were very messy and pretty unrecognizable in small font sizes. After a quick google search, Nimrah (shoutout to Nimrah for helping me with all of this) and I came to the conclusion that it was just better to use Stitch Era’s built-in lettering tool, especially since I was using a TrueType font and not some freebie font from dafont.com. Here is our first test of text using Stitch Era to the Singer software. This did not take long, and it was a great test. I made different lines different sizes in order to gauge how small I could go and still keep the text legible.

Errors are Definitely Found

Low and behold, the errors were not hiding deep under the surface in this project. It began with a confusing spacing error. Every time I would import the design from Stitch Era to the Singer software, the alignment would be incredibly off. Every two lines would be drastically shifted to the right of the previous line, making a frustrating and confusing diagonal set of text. Each new line would shift far off of the hoop space, making it impossible to realign. When we tried to fix it, we got this error, which would pop up every time we tried to scroll. And close the window. And zoom.

The final solution that Marcela so ingeniously came up with and helped me execute was to make four different files where the text was exactly aligned, and send them each individually to the embroidery machine. In addition, I ran into the outlet plug not once, but twice, shutting off both the embroidery machine and the computer. The embroidery machine also got stuck, leaving a nice little puncture wound at the top of the “F.”

3 Days Later, Something Legible Emerges

It was day three, and moral was diminishing. I was starting to think there was no hope. Between me running into the machine and the software crashing and not making sense, I was ready to resort to vinyl cutting. But alas, the embroidery machine FINALLY came through quickly enough for me to not run into the plug a third time. I was relieved and joyous, just like a person who has finally restarted a program enough times to not get the same error again.

In thinking more about my project, I remembered that errors are inevitable. Neither we nor computers are perfect (just yet), and at some point in time, we need to face our errors. In the physical world, we are sometimes more likely to take responsibility for our errors. We cut ourselves with scissors that are too sharp and we regret using the wrong scissors for the material. We run into things and knock them over, like I did with the outlet that held my project together. But when it comes to computers, we are much more likely to blame it on the technology. “My computer isn’t working,” or “this program is so poorly designed,” or “I want to punch whoever decided to switch hot keys between similar programs.” When can we take responsibility for computer errors? When machinery is increasingly an extension of ourselves, do we finally draw the demarcation where we can still use technology as a scapegoat for human error? In applying my design as a t-shirt, I force the user to wear their errors, whether or not it is their fault. Regardless of whose fault it is, it must be solved and a workaround must be discovered. Mistakes are meant to be learned from, and errors are part of the learning process.

Additional Personal Thoughts Triggered by Errors:

In staring at the 404 Error for so long, I was reminded of a class I took just a year ago. It was a dynamic web applications class that I immediately regretted taking as soon as it began. Determined to learn something, I fought the will to drop out and dealt with the stream of tears that every homework assignment resulted in. One of our assignments was to create a 404 error using routing with express and node.js. I remember going through it in class, being confused, trying it at home after hours of research, and being even more confused. After that assignment, I never took 404 errors for granted. I knew that behind their lame default styling and their seeming gibberish, they had meaning to the person who made that page. Someone spent time making that page, just so others around the world could experience frustration every time they encountered it. In my dynamic web class, creating a 404 error page that worked was not a disappointment, but an achievement. I then came to think more of how we take technology for granted. Technology enables us in so many ways, but we suddenly feel so disabled and crippled when we are deprived of functionality that we are accustomed to. We are so overwhelmed with frustration that we tend to forget the power at our fingertips that enables us to instantly search for thousands of images of cats doing yoga, or read through senseless memes for hours. Technology is amazing, and even in it’s darkest hours (I’m talking to you, blue screen of death and endlessly spinning pinwheel), we should take a step back and be grateful for all that we have access to.

 

related pieces:

Tyler mentioned this to me. I’m pretty sure that this is a knock-off of the original Balenciaga design.

Also, Dave Chapell’s “if the internet was a real place” also uses the same premise of taking scenes that are native to the internet, and placing it somewhere where we would find it unusual.

Soft Toy

Reminder: My user is a single, 40 year old man who lives in Portugal. His name is Carlos, and he is technically my second cousin once removed. This toy is for him.

I began by looking at inspiration. Surprisingly, there are more stuffed airplanes that I thought I’d be able to find on the internet. Here are some examples: 

These are all very adorable! I liked the more angular look, just because the rounded ones looked more for children and my user is definitely not a child (although sometimes he acts like one). I decided to customize it and make it look like a TAP portugal plane, which is Portugal’s national airline. We don’t always take TAP, but they tend to fly from an airport closer to our house which makes his job of picking us up from the airport a lot easier. This was the image I modeled my plane from:

With that in mind, I set out hand-embroidering, because my experience with the embroidery machine did not go so smoothly. Here is my very mediocre hand embroidery:

I then decided to sew! I have not used a sewing machine in quite a few years, so with the knowledge that I was a bit rusty, I left REALLY large seams on the edges of my stencils for my fabric. Even so, I was not able to follow a straight line all the time, and some of my wings ended up a very lopsided. I also could not find the white felt, so my plane became gray. All in all, my plane began to look like a whale.

Here is around midnight, where I thought my sewing job wasn’t half bad. I then flipped my plane/whale over and realized the dorsal fin was on upside down. Great.

Here’s a top view that shows how my sewing job somehow left my evenly cut fabric pieces looking wavy? Somehow they were different widths and curved at different locations? In the future, I think sewing stitches on the outside would be a much better move.

And here is the final product! Half whale, half plane, my sea plane is complete!

Fabric Market Trip

The trip to the fabric market just about met my expectations. The notions market was much more run down, but the fabric market seemed better lit and with less children. The people working there seemed slightly more organized, and their fabrics were nicely displayed. I did realize that I found the fabric market a lot more overwhelming in terms of quantity, but in quality, I wasn’t as interested as I was in the notions market. I’ve been to fabric stores before (although certainly not the same size or with people who I couldn’t communicate with), so seeing the rolls of fabric stacked on one another wasn’t a novel sight for me. The notions marker was more customized; with buttons, patches, ribbons, and sequins, I saw more of the details of the product. It might just be me getting caught up in the details, but the small refined touches were so much more interesting to me than rolls of fabric. I also found it much harder to communicate what I wanted to see or buy (or how much), since I had to deal with measure words and fabric terms that I am very new to. Overall, the fabric market was confusing and difficult to navigate both in terms of communication and geographic location. I mentioned making a map for the fabric market, which I find very interesting and I might explore for the touch project. Having a map of any sort would have been very helpful, even if some of the stands move over time. My only regret about the experience is that I wish we had several hours to explore, instead of half an hour.

 

12 Dancing Princesses, or One Mystical Elderly Woman

Final Video

Going about creating this story was no simple feat. I definitely underestimated the complexity of the plot, and as a result, am presenting a far simplified version of the original story. My medium of choice to showcase my struggles was snapchat, so I apologize for the vertical videos and terrible looking comments. In my sheer sleep deprived state, I forgot to document in a normal, high quality fashion. Some of them have vanished into the void, as snapchats do, but included in this post are some that were saved before eternal damnation into the blackhole of data disappearance:

I first began with fuse and creating my characters. I started with thinking that my story might be in VR, or possibly in 3D. I envisioned my user as a third person character, looking on from a distance.

Internal Plot Strife:

As I thought more about the plot of the story, the more I felt uncomfortable with the original man telling the story of the 12 princesses to their father. I knew that this was something I was not fond of from the beginning, but after a while I just thought I had no choice and would have to change that part. I didn’t like that he reveals their secret, even though it is not his secret to reveal. He doesn’t address why they go out, or acknowledge the fact that their nearly harmless fun is now ruined by his tattling. In addition, he is just granted one of the daughters. What if the daughter doesn’t want to get married to him? I wouldn’t want to marry someone who just revealed my secrets to my father. I then decided that I wanted the person who discovered the secret to decide not to tell it. I imagined a scene where the son of the woman comes in the next day to ask the nurse if she has found out why his mother is always covered in sugar and cinnamon, and the nurse looks over at the old woman, sees how happy she is, and tells him that she has not found out any information. I was much more content with this ending, and it made me happy to think that the women/singular woman would continue on with her own magical fun without interruption.

3rd Person vs. 1st Person: (and how many people)

I then thought more and more about the story, and how it would be much more interesting if the user was the person who was granted the task of figuring out the mystery. Then, it would be more of a challenge. Restrained by my limited (aka no) knowledge of Unreal, or other game engines that would make an actual mystery/adventure game come to life, I knew that it had to be a guided challenge where the user was ushered into the correct spaces for the plot to proceed. This made one of my characters in fuse useless. Initially, the nurse at the nursing home would be the one who the user portrayed, as well as the one who takes on the mystery. After deciding that the user would be involved as first person in the story, I had to lose her. Having to integrate this idea with my new ending was one of the more difficult parts of the storytelling aspect of this project. I loved the new ending I created, but if my user was in third person, I had no way of controlling their decision-making process. Instead, I had to force them not to tell, probably by destroying the evidence they collected. Originally, I wanted the user to gather items from the forest (like the original story did), but I decided to go 21st century and have her take a picture instead. I also imagined a scene where she goes to tell the son and show him the pictures, but the pictures are all blurry and indiscernible. I was not as happy with this ending, but I knew I would have to settle.

Texture Troubles

A lot of my future decisions were dictated by what I had time for, and what I was capable of given my experience. For example, in the original story, the man must act kind to the old lady in order to receive his tidbit of knowledge that helps him succeed. My idea was for the nurse/user to help the old man to facetime his daughter, and then for him to indicate how she could follow the woman. Unfortunately, I had an ipad model but no textures for it. With limited time (and enough difficulty texturing my humans), I had to omit the ipad. I also cut down all of the women to one, because I knew that even though the animations would be the same for all of them, I had extreme problems with importing textures and therefore had minimal time to spend on making extra characters.

When it came down to it, I eventually also had to scrap the scene where the user tells the son. For the sake of time, it solved my problem about texturing technology, and the internal strife that I felt towards the revealing of the secret. Making the third person never have the opportunity to tell the secret, (since that scene never appears), made it much easier.

Technical Woes

It was my first time using Unreal Engine, and I was surprised at how unintuitive I found it to be. I’ve used Unity before and everything from the movements to the properties, to the unexpected keyframes I kept finding, confused me to no end. Walls would randomly disappear, I could never tell what in an imported group of objects was selected, and importing textures from blender was an immense obstacle. Turns out, blender does not package textures within their fbx imports, no matter how hard you try. I also used the curve editor much more than I ever had in the past (and much more than I originally thought I would need to), just because unexpected harsh transitions would pop up, or keyframes that wouldn’t show up in the regular sequence editor would be hidden. I would plan out the path of the camera, and somehow, I would render and the path would be totally different. I also am still unsure why my people do not have eyes. If anyone could help with that, it would be much appreciated. Things I did discover included:

Tidbits of knowledge that might help someone, someday:

  • when rotating an object and it rotates the wrong way (like if you’re moving from 30 degrees to 0 degrees and instead of going towards the negative numbers, your object goes towards the positive numbers, you have to take the z value, subtract it from 360, and take the inverse (+/-) of it, and input that value. Sometimes, this doesn’t work and you have to go in the curve editor and go to the z keyframe point of that moment, and manually input it yourself.
  • Unreal’s curve editor is cool and all until you’re used to working in illustrator and suddenly you have much less control over the direction of individual handles on curves. (Maybe I couldn’t find the setting for it, but this became pretty frustrating when I couldn’t extend the size of the handle manually or move it independently of its pair on the other side)
  • When you export scenes as .AVIs in unreal and they’re not compressed, THEY WONT OPEN OR CONVERT! I tried many a free conversion software only to find that no program would even open my file and try to convert it, so that I could use my file in premiere. Don’t go for high quality, unless you know you can handle it. Pictured here: my converted files!
  • Unreal files are huge (obviously), but if you move from one computer to another, make sure that your drive that you’re storing things on are writeable for both macs and pc’s! Or else you’ll end up trying to upload files to google drive like:
  •  
  • When you go through the pipeline of fuse to mixamo to unreal, the textures somehow get transformed along the way, optimizing for unreal. If you download the textures from mixamo in a package, and then try to apply them directly in unreal, this will not work. Somehow, the UV coordinates get scrambled and you end up with something that looks like this: (if you’re into glitch art, would definitely recommend!!

 

Discovering scale is very important! Make sure to import models at a reasonable scale or else you’ll lose them like I did with this poor man!

Some pictures of me not knowing what I’m doing in unreal but it looking very nice:

Updates Since Thursday:

Knowing how little time I had, I wanted to add another scene at the end to build on the plot more, but I was afraid of messing up what I had more, by adding more. I already had so much difficulty with assigning the correct textures, making sure the environment had the correct lighting, and transferring gigantic files between computers, that I knew that if I started to add something to the scene I already had, it was very possible that my whole scene would come crumbling down like dominoes. I originally had another scene in the beginning that I thought set the scene up nicely, but for Thursday, I didn’t have time to render it out and present it. In the newest version, the opening scene is included. If I were to really have time to flush out all of my ideas, I would like to start from scratch, just because the knowledge that I have in unreal right now is so much more than I did when I started, and I would have made changes so that the whole process was much more efficient and like I wanted it to be. I also considered having a closing scene where the elderly woman can be seen dancing through a window of the castle, but even with the extension, I did not have ample time to execute my idea.

Model Attributions: 

green couch – t4k1k on blend swap

Coffee Table is available under the “CC-BY” Creative Commons License.

folding – Com Folding Chair(https://sketchfab.com/models/e131c04422254656be4470080c4add2f) by Game Props(https://sketchfab.com/eliteforcevn) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Lamp(https://sketchfab.com/models/4ee1dc936c4543f6b957a8b11a1e940a) by SchoolAcount(https://sketchfab.com/SchoolAcount) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

painting: Birds in a pound – painting(https://sketchfab.com/models/8b20654925f941e48a2bafca4851a953) by Guido Salimbeni(https://sketchfab.com/3dsmithery) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) 

Radiator(https://sketchfab.com/models/72155df93d3047eba195671aa9092dbd) by GraceE(https://sketchfab.com/GraceE) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) 

recling chair; Old Recliner Chair(https://sketchfab.com/models/da2bc78892974e2fa085740b9cc1fbb8) by vegu(https://sketchfab.com/iamvegu) is licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Power Outlet is available under the “CC-BY” Creative Commons License.

Simple Persian Style Rug is available under the “CC-0″Creative Commons License.

Small Lamp(https://sketchfab.com/models/05a29f6467034451997570860aa296c4) by bvoz(https://sketchfab.com/bvoz) is licensed under CC Attribution(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

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Loom – Ines & Ali

Envisioning the Concept

The idea for the loom came from a distance memory. I knew that at one point, I wove on a cardboard loom in a middle school art class. I switched yarn several times, and I remember it being one of the most tedious projects I had ever worked on. After it was finished, it went into a bin with my other art projects and was thrown into the basement, where it probably still sits today. When thinking about a loom, I instantly remembered the straight loom that I made, but a piece of me had an idea for a circular loom. Had I ever weaved on a circular loom? Did my circular weaving also sit in a bin in the basement? These were questions that would not be answered in the near future, but instead inspired a movement to create what may or may not have been a piece of my past. Either way, now it is a piece of my present.

Let the Research Begin

We began by researching. There are an uncanny amount of circular apparatuses for knitting hats of all sorts, but the looms were a little more difficult to find. I at first thought of a way to make it more effective. I was reminded of how exhausted and bored I was with weaving back in 7th grade, and I wanted to see how I could make it more efficient in a circle. My first idea was to have two hoops, each with pegs on it that would alternate (so that your hand/shuttle) wouldn’t have to. When you lifted one, every other string would lift with it, and you could just move the shuttle around the loom, comb it, and then switch which hoop was raised. I then realized that it would not work, because the hoop would get in the way of the yarn and warp the tension. There would be no way that the hoop could alternate because it would get stuck in the yarn. We also watched many a circular weaving video to help inform our decisions.

Hoop de Loop

The second idea we came up with distanced the part that held the yarn from the hoop itself. This ensured that the hoops would not interfere with the yarn itself. I quickly 3D modeled this to get a better idea of how it could work, and how it would look. We planned the hoops to be lasercut from cardboard, and the pegs standing up from the cardboard to be made from semi-pliable wire. Here are my models of the hoops.

 

The first has the two hoops as completely independent.

The second has the hoops as one piece of cardboard, with the etching as a guide for folding. This way, when we alternated the hoops, the cardboard wouldn’t be free moving. But then I was reminded of how difficult it is to fold cardboard accurately, and moreso how impossible it would be to fold cardboard in a circle. This idea was quickly put to rest.

My last idea involved either wire or string just to keep the two hoops together to facilitate the weaving.

Getting Hooked 

I also prototyped different types of the top of the hooks. Since we were making them from wire, I imagined them having something to hold the string up, as opposed to letting it slide down the hoop. I had a V-shaped design, as well as a design that involved hot glue chunks. One thing I realized after I modeled these was that the loom would not be strung in the way that I depicted it, but I also did not want to take the time to make the model more complicated and fix my error. (please ignore my unclosed model, it was simply for prototyping)

Laser Power

Laser-cutting worked well, and although our loom was a bit smaller than we originally envisioned, it was beautiful and everything we had ever dreamt of. We eagerly set out to weave, and set our sights on some yarn that would hopefully resemble a flower.

Whisking Up Some Weaving

Another aspect of our loom that we thought about for a while was the heddle. Thinking in terms of circular objects, I was reminded of the Normann whisk, which I saw in the Cooper Hewitt earlier this year. I wanted something that was stiff yet flexible, and one that was able to contract and expand in a circle. We procured the equipment room in search of a stiff wire that we could form into a similar object, but to our disappointment, we left empty-handed. Instead, we went and purchased a regular old whisk, cut it with some heavy duty wire cutters, and used hot glue to keep pieces in place and make sure that it wouldn’t scratch anything we put the whisk near. 

Reality Sets In     

Taking time into consideration, and the complexity of our design, we decided that it would be a wiser decision to go with the simpler circle loom. Instead of pegs, it has larger “petals” that hold the yarn in place, as well as a cut-out in the center that allows a user to efficiently use the shuttle without trying to shove their fingers in small places, as one would normally do in a basic hand loom. Taking the work off of the loom would require either a hoop, or some fancy knotting techniques. A hoop would make an excellent dream catcher-like-object, but not one that appropriates native American culture (because that’s just wrong).

Soft Toy Ideas

User: Carlos Simoes, age 40, male, lives in Portugal. Loves to travel around, and has lived in Portugal, USA, London, and Spain. Keeps souvenirs from the places that he has visited on a shelf, and looks upon them fondly. When on vacation, he is always looking for the perfect souvenir.

Theory: Carlos is my cousin, and since we live in different countries, we only get to talk every other month. When we see each other, we always have to take a plane. I was thinking that making a plane would be cute and would be a great way to show how we are connected.

I may crochet, but considering my skills with crocheting, I may have to just sew it. Here are some inspirational ideas. I was also thinking of incorporating airTAP, which is portugal’s airline, on the side.