Lately we've been experimenting with digital wearables and last Friday Ryan and I took some supplies out to the Tinkering Studio to try making cuffs with visitors. Designing and sewing a cuff usually takes at least forty five minutes so we wanted to set up a space that would allow visitors to work comfortably for an extended period. We set up the tube wall to protect people as they worked while allowing others to see in and ask questions. The tube wall also helped to prevent the workspace from getting over-crowded.
We learned from After Dark: Glow that the amount of materials required to make bling can quickly lead to a cluttered table. As an experimental solution, we tried putting most of the materials that you only need a limited amount of (such as felt, LEDs, and batteries) on a separate materials table and the materials you use more often (like thread, needles, and scissors) at the work table. I really liked this solution because it kept the workspace clear and useable while still being able to access materials to make additions to your project.
The first group who participated in making cuffs were on a field trip. Their teacher was excited that they were doing an activity involving circuits because that related to what they were learning in school. They ended up staying for over an hour to complete their cuffs.
The second group who participated was a group of homeschoolers who were also on a field trip. One girl came up with an innovative solution for testing her circuit as she constructed her cuff. She stuck an extra needle in one of the holes for the battery holder to extend it so she could connect the other end and test that her LED worked. The final design of the cuff included a dragon named Fantastica with a light up eye.
The theme of felted embellishments spread to other cuffs.
It's been really valuable to see how people approach this activity and learn more about what it takes to get people started sewing their cuffs. I'm looking forward to trying this with visitors again!