Mom, I Want a Faraday Dress, Too #WearableWednesday


Anouk Wipprecht had a charged audience at the Bay Area Maker Faire with her Faraday Dress, according to 3DPrintingIndustry. Famous for her tech couture, her work has been featured in commercials and many stages.This particular project was a collaboration with ArcAttack, a band that uses Tesla Coils to create music. Although the final performance was spectacular, the making of the dress is its own show. I know as a hardware lover the first thing I was thinking was, “that’s going to be tricky to test”. Apparently both materials and testing were hurdles, according to Anouk.

It’s a bigger process than just gathering the right materials or colors and constructing it, so I flew into Austin, Texas, where ArcAttack’s builder shop is housed. It’s “form follows function” in this case — a continual back and forth between design and role or purpose, where function was alpha, above all: multimeter testings of constructed connections, metal and aluminum materials that were ordered and mostly turned out not to reach the required conductive capabilities, paint jobs and coating that isolated too much of the created grounding structure.

It’s always trial and error when you are trying to do something new — and by testing it time after time, you secure your best options. When it was finally time for fitting and testing we started with firing up the coils lightly and built it up step by step. If the arcs raise through your heart, you might not live to tell, so if anything, this process was done very carefully. ArcAttack have been doing this for over 10 years and are specialists in their field.

Check out the test; you can hear some laughs with the zaps.

The dress was created with Autodesk 3D Design Tools and individual metal panels were finally cut from a sheet of metal with an Omax water jetting machine. Apparently the most time consuming part was connecting the 96 metal panels together — it resembles the chainmail you see at Renaissance festivals. There are also shoulder pieces that were 3d printed and nitrogen filled to give the outfit the electro effect.

This dress certainly is something that any teenager would love, but I’m more interested in where fashion is headed.  Our ability to include technology in the process and material of fashion is now offering us the chance to also use it as an artist would — to contradict or  reflect. This dress can represent challenge, power, women, and polarity. It can also represent the trend of Tesla lovers that want alternative energy sources, which asks, “What if we controlled our own power?” This is why the intersection of technology and art is so interesting; we are creating a new visual vocabulary.

So, speaking of vocabulary, maybe you and your daughter aren’t quite ready yet to make a Faraday dress. Why not start out by learning the basics  with the Manga Guide to Electricity. Then you can dive into a fun project like our NeoPixel Punk Collar. It’s not quite lightening bolts, but it is the perfect accessory for any concert goer.

Flora breadboard is Every Wednesday is Wearable Wednesday here at Adafruit! We’re bringing you the blinkiest, most fashionable, innovative, and useful wearables from around the web and in our own original projects featuring our wearable Arduino-compatible platform, FLORA. Be sure to post up your wearables projects in the forums or send us a link and you might be featured here on Wearable Wednesday!

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