Something-in-Residence @ ITP/NYU
New York City
Fall 2015

Artist-in-Residence @ Autodesk Pier 9
San Francisco
Winter/Spring 2016

Make: Wearable Electronics

Make: Wearable Electronics


Last weekend I returned to Brooklyn Shoespace for a 5-hour class on making leather slippers. The bootmaking I did last month was amazing but extremely time-consuming. Now that I’m moving on to thinking about iterative design and how to quickly build some electronics into footwear I thought it might be good to learn how to make something a bit simpler. Slippers turned out to be a great fit. Here’s what we made:



The process is fairly straightforward. These are the main steps:

  • Trace and cut leather according to pattern. Also cut rubber soles.
  • Use rubber cement to tack upper to leather sole.
  • Use dividers to measure distance of stitches from slippers edge, as well as stitch length.
  • Punch sew holes with awl.
  • Sew using a saddle stitch. Tip: for thread, use 4 times the length of the sewn edge + a little more.
  • Paint bottom of leather soles + smooth side of rubber soles with shoe glue. Let dry.
  • Very carefully attach rubber bottoms to the leather.
  • Sand edges.
  • Make & add tassles if desired!
  • See completed slippers above. Next step: adding some electronics!

In Print

Physical media lives on!

I just received “Electtronica Wearable: Disegna, prototipa e indossa i tuoi vestiti e accessori interattivi” from It is the Italian translation of my book “Make: Wearable Electronics”. Besides being in Italian, this version also includes a new preface from the lovely Zoe Romano who I got to meet this summer at E-Textile Camp.

I also finally crossed paths with my copy of the “Eyeo 2011-2015” book. It’s quite beautiful. I’m really honored to be included amongst such inspiring and prolific colleagues!



Leather Working and Natural Dyeing

I’ve been on a bit of a workshop binge this Fall. Back in October I took “Leather Working 101” at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. It was a great opportunity flush out my basic knowledge of leather tools and techniques. I’ve picked up bits and pieces from the leatherwork we’ve been doing at Social Body Lab, but this helped to give me a more solid foundation.

Left: a leather sewing test, Right: a leather card holder

Left: a leather sewing test, Right: a leather card holder


A few weeks ago weeks ago I attended a Saturday afternoon workshop on “Natural Dyeing & Foraging” at Manufacture New York. Part of the reason I wanted to go is to get a sneak peak at the Manufacture NY space, but I’ve also been thinking some about dyeing my own materials. Our instructor was Liz Spencer who focuses on ethical dyeing practices. The workshop focused on dyeing with plants found within the nearby region: black walnut, Hopi purple sunflower seeds, coreopsis, and pokeberries.

The final results! Left to right: coreopsis, pokeberry, Hopi sunflower seeds, black walnut. Top to bottom: linen, silk, wool yarns

The final results! Left to right: coreopsis, pokeberry, Hopi sunflower seeds, black walnut. Top to bottom: linen, silk, wool yarns

Besides straight up dyeing we also got to try bundle, resist, and shibori dyeing techniques. Good food for thought for future projects.

Bootmaking Intensive – Day 5

Today the boots became boots! The morning started with buffing the parts we dyed last night to make them nice and shiny. Then it was a lot of sanding, gluing, and assembly. It’s amazing how much work it takes to get the shape of the heel to perfectly match the shape of the sole. Once all the pieces were put together it was time to take it off the last – the moment of truth!

The fantastic news is that these boots actually fit. They’re a little tough to get on without a shoe horn and my heels slide up a bit when I walk, but overall they came out way better than I ever expected. It has gotten me excited about learning how to make other kinds of shoes!

Bootmaking Intensive – Day 4

Today was all about soles and heels. First patterns were made for both and then it was all about cutting, glueing and sanding. I decided on a leather sole with some inlayed rubber and leather stacked with a rubber cap. The combo embraces the loveliness of leather while being tough enough to withstand Toronto winters!

Bootmaking Intensive – Day 3

Day 3 = awesome! Today was about assembling, sewing, and lasting. The most nerve wracking moment was sewing the stitch around the ankle. I chose a contrasting color (neon pink!) so there wasn’t a lot of room for error. But both came out straight! The most bewildering moment was lasting the upper. When yanking on the veg tan it seemed impossible that it would reassemble itself into a reasonable shape, but with some help from Becca and Keiko it did. Now both look very much boot-shaped. Next up – soles and heels!

Bootmaking Intensive – Day 2

Day two! Today started with meeting Becca at Global Leather where I purchase a hide for my uppers. It is a black sheep veg tan which I’m quite excited about. The pattern pieces were cut and then the vamps were soaked, stretched, and left to dry overnight. Also the edges of the backs were skived (thinned out) in preparation for tomorrow’s assembly. The skiving machine is one of my new favorite things!

The linings were also cut from a soft black pigskin. The seams were joined first with rubber cement and then sewn. Tomorrow they’ll be joined to the uppers!

Bootmaking Intensive – Day 1

I’m taking a 5-day Bootmaking Intensive course at Brooklyn Shoespace with Rebecca Heykes. After a lot of thought about integrating some electronics I’ve realized that for my first go I just need to learn how to make shoes! I’ve decided to make a basic Chelsea boot – something that I will definitely wear. Today was spent pattern making as well as creating insoles. Here are some snippets…


Hilbert Hat Variations

While at ITP as a Something-in-Residence I have the opportunity to sit in on some classes. One that I’m checking out is Intro to Fabrication with Ben Light. This week’s assignment was to make multiples of something, 5 or more.  The objects must be a multi-process piece, ie. not 5 things made solely on the laser cutter or 3D printer.

I decided to work off an existing project – a set of hats that I’ve been making on the side for the last 3 or 4 years. I usually call them “Pink Hats” or “Flat Hats”. The design parameters are as follows:

  • They are all constructed from pink acrylic felt, cotton thread, and armature wire.
  • The felt piece is 24″ x 18″.
  • No material is wasted. The hat uses the complete sheet of felt.
  • The resulting hat can be completely flattened for flat packing, but it can also be styled and bent so that it pops out into 3D.

There are no electronics in these hats but they are about interaction. My favorite scenario is to put them on two people in a space with no mirrors so that they end up helping each other style and sculpt each other’s hat. Here’s what happened when I brought them on stage at a conference in Munich a few years ago: [1] [2]

Traditionally I’ve designed and cut these by hand but recently I’ve been experimenting with lasercutting the designs.

For this assignment I decided to do a reinterpretation of a hat that I made with Jason Bellenger several years ago. This hat used the idea of a Hilbert curve as a way to make use of all of the material. A Hilbert curve (which was new to me at the time) is a type of space-filling curve. You can see lots of images on Wikipedia.

The original hat was more of an interpretation of the curve rather than the exact curve itself. For this new version I wanted to try to stick as close to the actual curve as possible. Because I wanted it to be a fairly simple shape for quicker prototyping I chose this section of the curve to work with:


Rather than producing the same hat 5 times I instead decided to create 4 variations of the same base hat. For this I rotated the Hilbert curve 90 degrees in relation to the with each iteration. Here are the steps I did:

1. I created the designs. While the Hilbert curve remained pretty much the same some modifications needed to be made so that the curve connected properly to the hat part.


2. I cut down the felt. The reason I chose the size of 24″ x 18″ is that it is 1/6th of a yard of 72″ wide fabric. Therefore you can get 6 hats out of a yard without wasting any material. The orientation of the pieces is also important as the felt is stretchier in one direction than the other. Tip: rotary cutters are really helpful when cutting down fabric.


3. I ironed all of the felt pieces so that they would sit flat in the laser cutter. Some of the pieces go across the fold of the bolt so they start out with an ugly crease down the middle that would definitely mess up your design if you let the laser cut across it.


4. On to lasercutting. First I did a raster etch of the sew lines and then a vector cut of the lines. I left a tab at each corner so that the pieces would be a little bit easier to handle as they were being assembled.

4_lasercutting 4_lasercutting_detail
5. I created a jig using nails and some wood to use for bending the armature wire. This was a great use of the jig because even though the shape rotates in my designs it is always the same shape. So I just needed to be careful about where I started in the curve. Once the Hilbert curve was bent I then competed the rest of the hat by hand using some pliers.

5_wirebending 5_wirebending_all

6. I inserted the wireforms into the felt and pinned them shut. This is really important because otherwise the wire will shift all over the place during sewing.



7. Sewing! Usually I add the wire after sewing so it was a bit challenging learning how to maneuver with the wire in. But it mostly worked. In some cases in made sense to snip the tabs that were holding it into a rectangular form.

7_sewing_bent 7_sewing_finished_detail

And that’s pretty much it! It’s neat to see the variations and how they affect the shape and personality of the hats. In the next version I might need to make some more tweaks to improve the structural integrity. Also because I rushed the designs the head parts of the hats are a bit too shallow so I’ll fix that as well.


“Make: Wearable Electronics Book” Launch!


Part 1:

Part 2:

See you there!