eTextiles Summer Camp: Priti Veja

eTextiles summer camp montage2 LowResIn July 2013 the eTextiles Summer Camp event took place in Paillard, France, generously hosted by Paillard Centre d’Art Contemporain & Résidence d’Artistes and meticulously organised by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson of Kobakant. The location of a French countryside village, in an old secluded 18th century paper mill was perfect for such an event.

This five day event bought together an international mix of some of the most involved and enthused e-textile practitioners working in areas such as design, art, research, professional industry, academia and computing. The full schedule consisted of a lot of e-textiles thinking, doing, making, talking and sharing, based around the theme of the event – ‘soft and slow e-textiles’. The focus was on making processes involving time intensive craft methods and hand making in collaboration with new technologies.

All 27 participants gave a five minute pecha-kucha style presentation of their work over the inaugural group dinner. This gave a brief but insightful taster of the different e-textile experts, all of who shared the common interests of this niche discipline. What was immediately apparent was the positive understanding, acceptance and appreciation of the e-textiles work by all; sparking off comments and conversations of possible projects, collaborations and opportunities, starting dialogues that continued throughout the duration of the camp.

Two further days were filled with e-textile workshop activities and skill sharing. Pre-selected participants organised and led these workshops to disseminate their specific skill set and share their knowledge. Participants taking part in the workshops were able to learn skills such as Arduino programming, heatable e-textile circuits, 3D printing for e-textiles, vinyl cutting, fibre optic weaving, thermochromic screen-printing, copper batik e-textiles, conductive lace making, e-textiles touch pad surfaces to name a few. It was quite a rare opportunity to have such a diverse range of expertise all in one place with the openness to teach and learn from one another.

The ‘MakerBot’ 3D printer was in full action printing plastic forms and onto textile substrates for possible e-textile outputs. What was interesting to observe was the structure being printed were positioned and deposited looked like that of woven structures. The fibre optics weaving was also of particular interest as it used basic frame looms with plain weave to build quite advanced and sophisticated pieces of woven textiles. The optic fibres were finished in multiple ways to fracture the light to emit in different intensities and propotions. When activated with a light source, the results were quite dramatic.

The skill share workshops exposed a range of e-textile techniques, which raised some lengthy discussions about these processes and initiated a brainstorming session of future potential applications of such materials. Participants were given an opportunity to develop some of these inspired concepts in the final two day group project task. Based on the topics of discussion, several project concepts evolved; including a ‘power generating textiles’, a ‘tree loom’, a ‘future e-textile swatch book’ and ‘underwater e-textiles hats’ that were some of the inventions pursued.

The ‘tree loom’ project integrated the outside surroundings and on site trees, built with two interweaving hoop warps made of fibre optics, monofilament and paper yarn. The vertical warp was half paper and half monofilament, giving a graduating visual effect from a distance. Two days of construction time and a lot of invested patience, the dark of the evening showed the activated fibre optics with a light source. The overall structure invited other viewers to participate with weft weaving as an interactive piece.

The event was a great success and a unique opportunity to have such a wealth of combined knowledge in the specific domain of e-textiles all in one place. Participants left feeling inspired and encouraged to continue their work in this growing field of interest.

Priti Veja is an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, UAL in the weave department, a final year PhD student and a weaver at Brunel University,  who also specialises in woven e-textiles.

Image copyright: Priti Veja
eTextiles summer camp tree loom montage3 LowRes
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