Off Topic: Crafting Electronic

Although one might predict from my past in electronic art music as a member of a group known for building/designing/performing with original music synthesizers, that I'd be an eager participant in the current wave of electronic textiles, fashion, and wearable technology, I am not. When my Klout perks earned me tickets for two to attend Engadget Expand NY, however, I marked my calendar and timed my visit so I could attend the "Wearables Workshop" with Spark Fun Electronics.

With all there was to see and do at the Expand NY event, I actually arrived at the workshop two minutes late and there were no more empty seats. Fortunately, there were still kits available and so dh, the other stragglers, and I found comfortable spots in the corner on the floor or stage to complete our mystery (to me) project. Yup, either due to my tardiness or my insistence on Instagramming while only sort of listening to instructions, I didn't even really know what I was making. Turns out all I had to do was read the tag on the kit.
I was making a (wearable?) Firefly Jar!
Our workshop leader was entertaining, and she projected onto a big screen, for all to see, easy to follow diagrams for each step. Both our leader and her assistant were always available to answer questions.

This is where my sewing skills came in handy. Dh, having built the aforementioned amazingly awesome music synthesizers with his crafting skills (including photo-resistive etching, soldering, wiring, and fabricating with lucite) was not able to complete his Firefly Jar in the workshop's allotted time. I was. You see, we were required to connect all our components by attaching them to felt fabric "jars" with conductive thread. That is, we sewed them together. Apparently, all the hand basting I did while making the Zipper Ripple Jacket gave me a big advantage. Not that this was a competition. But hey, I even had time to redo my sloppy "negative bus". (O, I do love tossing those terms around!)
My hand sewing on the back side of the jar

In the end, however, dh was the real winner. He finished assembling his Firefly Jar when we got home, completing his running stitches with no help from me. He made the artistic decision to pierce tiny holes into the over layer of felt directly above his LEDs. This way, when his fireflies flashed, they would be sharp and bright, not like the "lame diffuse light" (his words) emanating from my fireflies. I must admit his was an artistic triumph.

I know what you're thinking now. You're thinking, but I thought this was a Wearables Workshop. Yes, I was confused too. Perhaps this part was explained in the first two minutes that I missed, but I'm thinking we could velcro the jars onto a t-shirt or something. What's really important is that I learned basic skills that would allow me to incorporate simple wearable electronics into something I designed. Will I do it? I really don't know.

Truth be told: dh is no stranger to electronic wearables. I think he's a pioneer. Below are some old skool e-wearables.
Top left: Flashing Necklace by dh, early 1980s
Bottom left: Flashing Armband by dh, early 1980s
Right: Belt by unknown artist, purchased at Patricia Field, NYC, mid 1980s
If you'd like to see some work from people currently working in electronic textiles and wearables, check these folks below:

Updated 19Nov2013


  1. So pretty! Perhaps you could convince him to make himself a flashing necktie or beanie for Christmas!

    1. Perhaps this could happen. I'll tell him he has fans! :)

  2. Ahh, I was wondering what those photos were from - what a fun event and I absolutely love the fireflies! I'm sure you could incorporate that into some garments soon. :-)

    1. Perhaps I will. Gotta think about this one. Lol


I love hearing from you!
{Comments are moderated in order to prevent spam.}