Every now and then I check up on one of my fave spots in the tech world—Hybrid Ecologies Lab @ UC Berkeley. Recently I spotted Frida Kahlo as a soft circuit on their site and instantly knew one of the lab’s key people, Cesar Torres, was engaged with the group on another exciting project. Cesar is a big Frida fan and is also an artist, however, upon talking with him I realized that the excitement was not about the stitching of the circuit. The real work going on here was designing a digital system/software that could take into account aesthetics, as well as key fabric/art friendly electrical components to create beautiful circuits. The resulting project is called Ellustrate.
I know from doing my own copper tape paper circuits that designs can get quite intricate. The system proposed in the group’s white paper allows for an easier way to design circuits and share them as tutorials with others. It also provides steps for checking the circuit for continuity. With tablet devices becoming so commonplace, this method just makes sense. It’s like a mashup of Fritzing, Art Rage and touch-screens. So, I suspect the future does hold even more exquisite circuits that resemble fine art. They will become lamp shades, jackets, cloth books, duvet covers, paintings and wall coverings. Doesn’t it make you want to grab your art supplies and conductive thread? While you are at it, you might want to take a look at a great example of an electronic embroidery project—the Light-Up Angler Fish. Circuits can be so expressive.
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