Soft circuits: most basic of basics

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Soft circuits for fashionistos/as

I ran I tiny taster in soft electronic circuits for fashion students today that was a part of the minor Textiles of fashion school AMFI. In a small hour (goes by so fast!) students were introduced to very basic concepts in electronics by making a super simple circuit consisting of a power supply and an LED (with on-board resistor) or piece of LED-strip. The minor Textiles has the goal to let students experiment thoroughly with the properties and possibilities of materials and machines, in order to generate new fashion concepts. What I loved about working with the AMFI teachers running this minor (Petra Vonk & Laura Duncker) was that they really seem to put great importance on starting the experiment from the material: make – look – feel – imagine – make again.

working out circuits with different types of LEDs

working out circuits with different types of LEDs

Electronics as part of the fashion curriculum

Electronics can integrate really nicely with textiles design and fashion. There’s a huge network of practitioners using it for fashion forward collections as well as wearables in medical/wellbeing applications, costume design, toys, and many other things. One of my favourite resources is Kobakant’s DIY section. This simple exercise allowed them to get some hands-on practice and understanding of how to connect up a circuit and avoid shorts using conductive thread, knits, textiles and steel wool. A couple of students even managed to add a switch or a sensor. After a short demo and making their first soft circuit they left with ideas of how to use the following materials and techniques in their own projects.

  • conductive threads, paints and textiles as well as materials with variable resistance
  • creating basic switches and soft sensors
  • silkscreening with thermochromatic paint
  • working with programmable AVR chips

It’s really great to see that the first students have started to come back in the months after to develop their own circuits and ideas. Even if you’re just beginning, there’s LOTS you can do with a bit of imagination!

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making