Led by Walton Institute, Re-Fashioning the Future is a workshop series supported by Creative Ireland and Waterford City & County Council. A community of traditional textile craft practitioners with experts from Walton’s new Electronic Textiles (E-textiles) Lab are collaboratively exploring and investigating e-textiles with the Lilypad sewable range of electronic components, conductive fabrics, and conductive thread.
Re-Fashioning the Future aims to engage traditional craft/textile makers in e-textiles and provide the technical skills and know-how to sew simple electronic circuitry in fabric with conductive thread, allowing for creative outputs with added functionality. Reconfiguring traditional substrates into soft, flexible circuitry with conductive thread and ink opens new opportunities for wearable Internet of Things (IoT) applications across a variety of sectors including wearable healthcare monitoring, innovative fashion, entertainment, wellbeing, and interior design.
Phase One workshop participants include Waterford Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) Fashion Design and Interior Design tutors and students; Caroline O’Toole of Speak in Stitches and Waterford Women’s Shed; and Network Ireland’s Waterford Creative Professional Businesswoman of the Year 2021, MJ Jacob of Mad Jessi. The workshops are facilitated by Aileen Drohan, Junior Software Research Engineer, and Frances Cleary, Mobile Ecosystem and Pervasive Sensing (MEPS) Division Head at Walton Institute. Speaking of the project to date Aileen Drohan said, "the response from the participants and willingness to engage and has been overwhelming.Embroidered fireflies, by MJ Jacob, that twinkle when metallic snap connectors are closed, to an illuminating comfort cushion for children scared of the dark, created by VTOS interior design student Lucia Brzovic, were just some of the artifacts realised."
Phase Two of the project will kick-start this coming Autumn when participants will extend their newly acquired skills through an additional series of workshops to wider community groups. According to MEPS Division Head, Frances Cleary, “it is clear there is an appetite and need for STEM knowledge transfer between traditional crafters and electronic textile practitioners. Bridging the knowledge gap between the scientific and creative disciplines is mutually beneficial enabling the fusion and evolution of creative and innovative e-textiles and traditional craft concepts and ideas."
Walton Institute’s E-textiles Lab, situated in ArcLabs Research and Innovation Centre, includes a state-of-the-art industry level embroidery machine, piezo-electric printer for precision printing of electronic circuity and related e-textile equipment. The lab opens new collaborative opportunities for smart material and smart garment prototype concept creation.