My Hoops at Maker Faire

Here are a couple of detail pictures and videos of the hoop prototypes I brought to Maker Faire. I’ll have a longer post later in the week with all the cool stuff I saw and played with while wandering around the faire grounds. I wasn’t able to shoot great video at the faire because of the noise, so the two I included were shot in my hotel room (hooping indoors is quite a challenge!). I’m hoping to bring these pieces to a hoop jam and have some other hoop dancers try them out soon.


I mostly wore the sound making outfit around during the weekend, as my light up one was hard to see anywhere but inside the darkened Fiesta Hall. It was fun to wander through the crowds and do mini demos along the way. This is a slight variation on the beatbox hoop prototype I blogged about previously – instead of a hacked toy I used a LilyPad Arduino to make notes for each of the conductive patches. Many thanks to my fellow Seacoast Maker Alex Nunn for helping me with some last minute code on this one before I left for the faire. The nice thing about this particular jacket is that the board is completely modular; sewing snaps allow you to remove the LilyPad from the traces and speaker and pop in another one in the same configuration. I also used Sugru to add a finishing touch and a little extra protection to the connection between the snaps and the wires going to the LilyPad. I stopped by the Sugru booth and they loved the use of their product in wearables.



The first prototype is a little messy with some hot glue to make sure things didn’t fall apart with all the movement. The outfits held up well after two days of hooping, with only minor repairs needed.


I modded some gloves with conductive patches so that I could create effects while hooping on my hands as well. They snapped right into the sleeves of the jacket.

This is a completed version of my early experiment with LEDs. A small battery holder, conductive fabric, and LEDs make it a nice blink and bling example of my hoop-as-a-switch concept.


This little battery holder from Aniomagic worked well on the collar of this jacket. Unfortunately, it looks like they don’t make them anymore.

Summer Vacation

After a whirlwind month of two maker faires – the Cambridge Mini Maker Faire and the Bay Area Maker Faire, I am ready to take a brief vacation from blogging. I’ll be working on a few projects throughout the summer and I hope to share them along the way or when I start blogging more often in the fall. See you then and enjoy your summer!

Here are a few pics from my trip to San Mateo for Maker Faire.


I had a great time doing a demo at the CRAFT booth on getting started with soft circuits. I had some examples of conductive threads, fabrics, and kits to show and pass around.


I met up with Dia, Sparkfun’s TechStyle Specialist, who had a cool sound-making dress with conductive flower petals and conductive threads as the triggers.


I got to stop by the Instructables HQ in San Francisco, so exciting! We made some liquid nitrogen ice cream and got a tour of the office.

World Maker Faire Recap

It’s been one week since I traveled out to Queens to experience the first World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science. I had an amazing time seeing some familiar faces of my fellow makers and meeting lots of new and interesting participants and faire-goers.

The event had a bit of a different feel than the Bay Area Faire back in May. Many of the makers were outside in tents, lending it more of a craft faire or street faire feel than the expo setting of everyone gathered together in a big warehouse. I was located near the CRAFT area and close to the Bust Craftacular where it was a little more low key than the main traffic areas.

Many of the makers were located inside the New York Hall of Science scattered between the museum’s permanent exhibits. It was an interesting (though sometimes confusing) combination of the stationary exhibits and the maker booths.


In addition to displaying my projects at a booth, I was also invited to do a demo at the CRAFT booth on my ‘Talking’ Sock Puppets. There was a great turnout and I had a lot of fun talking to folks after the demo about how they could make their own noise making puppets at home. The puppets even earned an Editor’s Choice blue ribbon – they were a big hit with kids and adults alike.

Other Soft Circuit Makers


I was lucky enough to have the folks of Fabrickit as my neighbors during the faire. They launched their new product line and I was able to chat with them about it and purchase a kit to bring home and try out. I will be posting soon about my experience with their modules.

Inside the Hall of Science I stopped by Sarah and Lara Grant’s Felted Signal Processing table – they are using conductive and metallic fibers combined with wool to felt their own sensors and controllers for sounds. The pieces have a wonderful texture and sculptural quality to them.

Many of the other soft circuit and wearables makers who presented at the faire were also in the eTextile Fashion Show organized by Lynne Bruning. Unfortunately it was scheduled at the same time as my sock puppet demo, but my friend Rebecca was able to capture some video of it for me to compile and share.

The Rest of the Faire

While I wasn’t able to experience the full faire, the friends who traveled with me were nice enough to watch my booth a few times so I could wander around and see some things for myself. I watched a Life Size Mousetrap performance and caught the last Arc Attack show of the weekend, two things I regretted not being able to see in person while wandering around the Bay Area Faire. Many thanks to Rebecca, Erin, and Randy for their help with photography and video of the faire!

Check out more Maker Faire images/video on my Flickr and Youtube pages.

Getting Ready For World Maker Faire New York

I’m happy to announce that Soft Circuit Saturdays will be at the first World Maker Faire in New York next month! This will be my 3rd time attending a Maker Faire event, and the first time I will be participating in one of the ‘big’ faires with a booth and projects to share. It’s going to be an amazingexperience to be in the midst of so many people – I’m very excited!

I will be bringing a few things I shared atCambridge Mini Maker Faire, along with some new pieces. I’ve decided to make sure that most of the projects that I bring along will have tutorials and DIY instructions available either on this site, Instructables, or Make:Projects. That means I’ll be spending the next few weekends putting together how-tos, getting everything prepped for the faire, and finalizing my travel plans. Instead of my weekly posts of projects and builds, I will be posting links to interesting projects I find on my Facebook page, and possibly publishing a round-up or two along the way.

I have a few friends who will be traveling with me to help document the faire and the other soft circuit projects and makers that will be there, so stay tuned for photos and videos in the weeks after the event.

Here are the projects I’m bringing (so far):

  • Drawdio Puppet
  • LED Jellies
  • Talking Sock Puppets
  • LilyPad Pillow

Check out all my tutorials over on Make: Projects to learn how to make your own versions of these pieces.

More Maker Faire Pictures

I recently received an email from Lee Guichan, who attended the Soft Electronics Demo at the Craftzine booth during Maker Faire. Lee sent some great images of Becky and me presenting soft circuit techniques to share on the blog.

All images courtesy of Lee Guichan.


Guichan, Lee Guichan is based in San Francisco, CA.

Photographing special events and editorial. Has photographed local and known personalities such as super models. Freelancing since 1990, Lee’s photographs have been published in local and national magazines, and used both for editorial as well as advertising purposes. Participation with an artist at the De Young Museum, San Francisco in a visual photo essay.

Lee’s goal is to capture the main action of the moment and the subjects’ expressions, approaching events in a photo journalistic manner.

Maker Faire 2010 Recap

This week I’ve been transitioning back to the ‘real world’ after spending the weekend in California and experiencing two full days of Maker Faire. There were so many amazing projects and demos, I was only able to catch a few of them, but what I did see was fantastic. I focused mostly on the soft circuits and wearables side of the event, but was able to catch a lot of other wonderful projects, shows, and happenings as well. Here are a few highlights (with more video coming soon!):

E-Textile: A Wearable Computing Fashion Show

From left to right:   Skirt Full of Stars  by Shannon Henry, LED vest by Erik Johnson,  GER: Galvanic Extimacy Responder  by Kristin Neidlinger,  Soft Electric Capelet and Sessile Handbag  by Grace Kim

From left to right: Skirt Full of Stars by Shannon Henry, LED vest by Erik Johnson, GER: Galvanic Extimacy Responder by Kristin Neidlinger, Soft Electric Capelet and Sessile Handbag by Grace Kim

The e-textile show was a hit, showcasing some projects involving lights, sensors, and augmented clothing. I snapped a couple of pictures after the show; these are only a few of the projects that walked the runway. I had a great spot in which to view the show, but unfortunately, a large garage door was open directly behind the stage. The light pollution kept those of us in the audience from the full experience of the light up projects. ArtFuture was able to capture a good video of the show and they will be uploading interviews with the designers this week.

Anti/Surveillance Fashion Show

On Sunday, a different kind of wearables show hit the runway – this one based around either evading or inviting surveillance. I really enjoyed the thematic element and the creative ways the designers thought to affect surveillance methods such as cameras, face recognition software, and even watermarking on currency.

eTextile Electronics Materials and Portable Lab w/ Adrian Freed

Adrian Freed gave a great presentation on e-textile materials, sourcing, and applications. He showed a few of his own pieces that involved using e-textiles as musical controllers and introduced his portable lab (which he was even able to bring on an airplane). I was able to capture most of it on video (aside from a few minutes of the question and answer session at the end).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Intro to Soft Electronics

Helping Becky out with her Craft demo. More pics  here .

Helping Becky out with her Craft demo. More pics here.

Becky Stern’s demo of electronic embroidery was a lot of fun. I was able to act as an extra set of hands for her while showing the audience how to sew with conductive thread, and passed things around to the crowd to check out. I brought a couple of my projects along with me to add to Becky’s soft circuit examples. Below are a couple of video excerpts (the whole demo was about 45 minutes long).

Working on the electronic embroidery example:

Showing examples of soft circuit projects and sensors:

Meeting the Makers

Nwanua from Aniomagic shows me the  Soft Remote kit  working with an iPhone

Nwanua from Aniomagic shows me the Soft Remote kit working with an iPhone

The best part of Maker Faire was talking with fellow makers and tinkerers who share my excitement for creating and experimenting. In addition to watching some fabulous demonstrations, I was also able to catch up with some soft circuit peers that inspire me and with whom I share projects through twitter, facebook, and flickr. Syuzi Pakhchyan of Fashioning Technology, Nwanua Elumeze of Aniomagic, Shannon Henry of Polymath Design Lab, and Lynne Bruning were some of the great people whom I finally got to meet in person.

Here are some more soft circuit/craft/sewing photos from the faire, and I have an album for the rest of Maker Faire over on flickr.

Countdown to Bay Area Maker Faire!

Today I started packing my bags for my first trip out to San Francisco. I’m flying out Wednesday to visit a friend, do a little sight-seeing, and check out the Bay Area Maker Faire. It’s going to be a ton of fun! I’ll be armed with my camera, a camcorder, and lots of energy as I visit as many booths/demos as possible and try and meet some of the makers who have been inspiring my own projects.

Here are a few of the things I plan on seeing:


E-Textile: A Wearable Computing Fashion Show
Lynne Bruning, textile enchantress and soft circuit superstar, has organized the Maker Faire’s first wearable computing fashion show. I’ll be there to see some of these pieces in person, and if time allows, meet and talk to a few of the designers.

Anti/Surveillance Fashion Show
Noisebridge, a San Francisco hackerspace, is also putting together a show called Anti/Surveillance “a runway show that explores the role of and our relationship with surveillance in our society.”


eTextile Electronics Materials and Portable Lab w/ Adrian Freed

Conductive Fabric: Methods and Materials w/ Lynne Bruning

Intro to Soft Electronics

Learn about crafty conductive materials and how you can integrate them into your projects! CRAFT Associate Editor Becky Stern with special guest Angela Sheehan will show lots examples of conductive thread embroidery, soft switches, and other craft-tech goodies.

Becky was kind enough to invite me to show a couple of my projects during her demo – I’ll be bringing the Musical Jellyfish and the Temperature Sensing Tea Sleeve as examples of crafting with electronics.

Maker Booths

The Bespoken: Wearable Adaptive Technology by Lynne Bruning
Skirt Full of Stars by Shannon Henry
Kimono Monsters by Sarah Din & PoChen Lin

And of course there are a ton of other non-soft circuit projects and demos happening that I will be scoping out as well. I won’t be making a post during the faire, but I will probably be posting a few pics on my Twitter. Stay tuned!

Why is Maker Faire so exciting? Check out this video from last year’s faire:

Weekends in Boston

Last weekend was the Cambridge Mini Maker Faire, which took place as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. A bunch of Boston-area makers were there to demo their projects and talk with the kids, families, and science-curious who came to the festival. I made the trek down from New Hampshire and spent the day hanging out and talking about my Soft Circuit Saturdays projects. Here are a few pictures from the event:

Photo by  Chris Connors

Photo by Chris Connors

I brought an improved Drawdio Jellyfish Puppet

some LED Jellies (though with the bright day they were hard to see light up)

Temperature Sensing Tea Sleeve (not functioning for the faire, I didn’t want anyone getting burnt)


and the Soft Circuit Scrapbook (with some additional pages since last week’s post).

The visitors to my booth had fun interacting with the projects and they inspired some great conversations. I had a chance to talk to an aerial dancer who was working on incorporating a LilyPad and accelerometers into her performances. I also met a few teachers who work with kids and engineering, lots of parents who loved the idea of using technology with crafts, and kids who build their own electronic projects. A lot of people asked if I held workshops or classes. I don’t right now but I’d like to organize some, so that is now on my to-do list. I was even invited to a kick off party for a new community workspace/makerspace happening this weekend. I’m so glad for the opportunity to participate in a mini maker faire and I think I’m going to apply for the World Maker Faire in NYC this fall to meet even more makers.

The best part about the whole day was really the kids. Most of my projects aren’t necessarily made with kids in mind, they are more for my own explorations and play, but they were engaging and accessible to a younger audience as well. I think the only child who had interacted with my pieces before the faire was my younger sister. I was happy that the kids enjoyed visiting my booth and a lot of them knew some of the technologies or had kits with similar bits and pieces (such as the Drawdio).

You can check out more pictures from the Mini Maker Faire over at the Boston Maker Faire Flickr Pool.

This weekend I’m heading back down to Cambridge for another Science Festival Event with the High-Low Tech group at MIT. My friend and I signed up a few weeks ago but were waitlisted for the Paintable Electronics Workshop; I just got the news yesterday that there was a cancellation so we are in! It’s going to be a lot of fun and I will be blogging about it later on in the week.

See You at Boston Mini Maker Faire!

This weekend has been all about preparing for the Boston Mini Maker Faire. I have been gathering up all the projects I want to bring, getting some fresh batteries, and making some fun stuff for my booth. Here is the felt banner I made to put over my table.

While packing up my projects and doing a bit of spring cleaning, I came up with the idea of a portable scrapbook/notebook as a better way to house all my favorite techniques, prototypes, components and samples. I really enjoy the computational sketchbooks and electronic pop up books that Leah Buechley’s High-Low Tech research group have created as a way to demonstrate paper computing techniques. Why not make my own using the soft circuit materials I have on hand? It is a great alternative to digging through tool boxes, bins, and drawers when I need something specific.

Inspired by textile sample books, I decided to use a three ring binder with removable pages as a storage solution for my ‘must have’ items. This way when I want to bring some samples along to an event like the maker faire or the NH Media Makers meet up, I can easily toss it in my bag and head out the door. The most important thing to me is that the components and parts are functional within the pages themselves. Here are a few pages I have made so far:


The thread page has bobbins that I attached with snaps, I can remove them to show others or to grab a small sample to take if I want to sew outdoors or at a craft group. The Bekaert threads came in ziplock bags and giant cones, so I am really happy with this alternative storage.

The battery holder page has two of my favorite methods for making soft coin cell holders. I attached one finished/functional holder with elastic loops (on the left), and then an exploded view to show how the pieces work and are constructed. Seeing them side by side is good for a quick reference of techniques.

The zipper page (in progress) is the first of the more interactive pages. This is an example of a digital zipper sensor technique created by Joo Youn Paek that I made into a module by sewing on neoprene and metal snaps. The module can attach to the page for a quick demo and then removed for prototyping a project. This particular zipper was a little hard to work with, so I’m going to try and find one with bigger teeth so that the conductive thread doesn’t interfere as much with the motion.

Boston Mini Maker Faire

The first Boston Mini Maker Faire is happening on Saturday April 24 from 12-4pm. Come and meet some Boston Area makers sharing and demoing their projects as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. I’ll be there with some of the weekend projects that I share on this blog.

I first found out about the faire through Dorkbot Boston and am so excited that there is going to be an event so close to me. Though I am going to be flying out to San Francisco next month for the big Bay Area Maker Faire, I am going as a spectator and not demoing, so it’s nice to have the opportunity involved in one of these events as a participant. This will definitely be less overwhelming than two full days of makers!

I’ll be bringing my LED Jellies, Temperature Sensing Coffee/Tea Sleeve, and my Drawdio Puppet along with me if anyone local wants to stop by and play with them. I just placed an order for some parts for the light up necklace I was working on last week, so that might make it into the mix as well.