FabLearn Europe 2016

On the 19th June I attended the FabLearn Conference to present workshops for a crowd of international researchers, educators and designers interested in digital fabrication.

The focus of my workshop was to provide a space where educators could come together to learn how to introduce e-textiles in the classroom and to community groups, through stitching the light up bookmarks.

This was useful because I was able to draw on my experience teaching this to the Brownies, meaning I had practical tips to share.

This list would include:

  • Take a magnet – needles get dropped on the floor and they can be difficult to find
  • Needle threaders are essential, as the thread can fray easily.
  • People sew at different speeds, depending on experience.
  • A multimeter is useful, for checking the circuit for faults.
  • Before starting, remind everyone the needles are sharp and should be placed either in a pincushion or on a magnet when not in use.

During lunch and coffee breaks I put on a spinning demonstration, which seemed to confuse some of the delegates until I described the historical link Preston has with textiles. The yarn I was spinning was plied with a conductive thread to make a beautiful yarn suitable for couching or weaving.

This could potentially be used in rugs or carpets, as when the fibres are squashed, the resistance decreases and it is possible to work out where somebody is stood in a room, or perhaps spot a fall.

The demonstrations were popular, and drew extra people in for the afternoon session. Although the kit was intended for bookmarks, it was good to see people changing the theme to suit themselves, and at about 4pm we were treated to a puppet show in German featuring a pirate coder and a footballer (I think). My German stinks so it was rather strange but very enjoyable.