Heat transfer printing with tinkering possibilities

A birthday surprise this year was a Saturday Heat Transfer Printing course at the fantastic Leeds Print Workshop.  Result, loved it : )

Great chance to learn about basic techniques and it certainly opened my eyes to possibilities with my own e-textile projects and ambitions with creative data viz.

A snapshot of my learning steps and the foundations for adding wearables:

Exploring surface pattern imagery

First steps with heat transfer techniques centred around getting stuck in with random outcomes.

Having a go with painting, sponging and paper templates and seeing what emerges through a design process based on time to explore over cups of tea.

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Trialling brushstrokes with dye

I’d taken along some inspiration in the form of sakura fabrics from another gift, a Japanese Furoshiki project.  That was my starting point of an idea to explore with the brushes and adapt later in the day.

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Understanding the beauty of layering

It’s a few of years since the first spark of interest about printing emerged from a conversation with the Bare Conductive team.  Yep, should’ve done it earlier.  I’m hooked!

You might be able to make out my thoughts along the way, for layering circuit designs within the patterns on each textile piece, but also for layering multiple pieces for a future project.  Big thanks to Kirsty at Leeds Print Workshop for developing those ideas with me during the session.

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Using new equipment

For those of us extolling the virtues of laser cutting as a brilliant way to see your designs come to life quickly, then using the heat press gave that same feeling of (nearly) instant success.

Transferring the dye to make the surface pattern at 180˚ means my pieces are permanent as long as I stick to a 40˚ wash!


Producing new (not blank) canvases (well, synthetics) for e-texiles

So here are the pieces created during that first session, which will now be adorned with sensors and LEDs as tinkering and research projects with the Internet of Curious Things programme.

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From Leeds to #Rio2016 with Codebug

We used Codebug as a means to share local sporting  stories but the purpose was to explore possibilities using servos with maker projects.

Moreover, the process of adding additional servo outputs and with them project complexities.

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Drum beats and robot waves were the starting point for some creative problem solving when initially tackling the code and wiring.

Step by step instructions from one of the learning activities proved invaluable until the point of adding the second servo, and then the serious debugging kicked in : )


Link to Waving Codebug activity

Starting simply with code to turn about 90˚ and with short pauses led to a Nicola Adams’ themed build.


Although the wiring still needs a tidy up:

From that grew triathlon-esque levels of complexity with decisions about servos as the most appropriate method to rotate 360˚.

No, but another couple of disciplines to recreate a Brownlee challenge meant no hold-ups in those transition stages.  Until next time!


And did we learn anything else to add to next projects and plans?

Of course.  Servo motion control with the device lends itself to numerous applications using Codebug.

Catapult contraptions à la Rube Goldberg await, although we’ve vowed not to test out prototypes in the vicinity of the cat again 😦


Seamless wearables from #DayToEvening


There’s one aim in this tinkering project; to use whatever successes, frustrations and new knowledge gleaned to plan activities and develop next generation digital making sessions.

Time to tinker and explore means ideas to be inspired, engage, collaborate and share new processes and opportunities through community, work and personal projects.

That shouldn’t be lost in the tongue in cheek approach to design thinking whereby I’m using technology as an aid to reach a goal.  And that goal is still undetermined.

But I do know that these iterations will move me that step closer to a seamless transition from day to evening wear which some friends simply nail with ease : )

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Design iterations

The MakerEd Leeds research project, and other design based activities in schools, have given numerous opportunities to explore the power of invention and self-directed learning.

I’ve been fortunate to observe examples of personalised and collaborative student approaches in schools’ maker environments, particularly interesting as learners develop complexity in their design and making practices.

For some, a shift in project purpose has emerged through iterations when ideas are revised and shared.  For others, maker has given the chance to shift end goals as new insights and skills are applied to their purpose and complexities.

Fundamentally though, it’s been reinforcement to the ideas that digital making can be self-differentiating and inclusive across key stages.

Building on complexity

Complexity can change purpose, so I’ve been tinkering with new additions, tools and resources to extend a range of wearables projects planned using Codebug.

Student projects incorporating the physical computing devices have included name badges, scrolling message boards and gaming machines.  From that has developed a wider design plan beyond code as textiles, materials and tools have been added with changes to the design plan.

One notable shift came through the addition of sensors to a project, which added complexity and the overall purpose of the project to have a safety focus rather than purely aesthetic.

Additions as project extensions, but also as ideas and inspiration for progression of personalised learning with design iterations, have come in a number of forms.

Adding light sequences with Colour Tail

Adding sound and music to projects

Adding bling possibilities to wearables with Glowbugs

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Next steps

Project Jacquard from Google has also been a catalyst to experiment with approaches to integrate woven circuits through e-textiles and explore the applications of thermochromic paint.

Using conductive thread with wearable projects has opened up many design thoughts and iterative ideas, although that came in a week of Yorkshire rain. Light and heat of an English Summer much needed to transform a wearable spectrum of colour!

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Now that we’ve successfully coated our own thread with thermochromic paint, those next steps are being formulated.

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Watch this space 🙂

Strictly wearables: e-textiles without needle pain

How to solve a problem of a dance bag forever left at venues and preparation for upcoming e-textile events?

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Easily done with a ‘pimp my bag’ challenge and only one rule.  You can never have enough bling.

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And special considerations given for those of us challenged by needle skills and who never made the grade with O’Level Domestic Science.

Hence my latest love for all things furoshiki style.

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Just one Codebug would seem plain, but two and it’s lights, song and dancing : )

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Strictly Colourstar:

Strictly tunes:

Work in progress, less is less. #BlingItUp 🙂

How do you solve a problem like Ada?

A glimpse into an Ada Lovelace inspired day during a Transition Week for Y6 students.  Poetic science and the obvious focus on progression of programming through algorithmic design.

Challenges were created by the students themselves, who quickly discovered wearable tech possibilities using Codebug as their programmable device.


Which direction did they take to use wearables as a communication gadget as well as a decorative piece?  It varied according to each pair.

Projects included a supportive transition focus, a music message board, a ‘feel good factor’ message, sporting themes and even an Earth Emoji Indicator (invention of the day!)


Designing, Creating & Racing

Group work then gave opportunities for further problem solving as the children turned detective to design their own treasure hunt.  Storytelling paved the way to create their own interactive games and share their challenges with peers.

Resources or tools available to the children?  Scratch, Cannybots and Blue-Bot as a starter for 10.

And how about the poetic science?  For some, imaginations went into overdrive with the possibilities opened up using electric paint.

Injecting a creative science element into their literacy work inspired a small group to investigate and use their circuit skills to develop handwritten projects.

For others, it was the workshop extending circus skills that did the same job 🙂


Coding ‘Light-Text’ to explain light sources with Codebug

What happens when an 8 and a 9 year old collaborate on a ‘creative homework’ piece to explain what they’ve learnt about light?

As a little bit of background, they’ve just spent the last couple of weeks designing & making non-tech ‘BBF jewellery’ pieces together, have had a quick explanation of what a Codebug is and could briefly explain what wearable tech is.

Go : )

Next project from this pair?  I have no idea!

How can the IOT supercharge a superhero?

For a while now I’ve been exploring the work around the Internet of Things (IOT) and how creative school projects can link to the ideas and considerations from the world of data. In particular, collected data and analysis from the children themselves.

As ever, it’s been a two-fold exercise to incorporate teacher CPD alongside projects in the formal curriculum, through enrichment activities and student event days.

Recently though, I’ve been looking at ways to engage younger children through ideas connected with the IOT and to glean some of their thoughts and opinions. To hear those responses from this age group and to listen to their abstraction methods moving the IOT on from their conceptual level has added to my own learning, most definitely!

The IOT fits perfectly into the project arenas for ‘technology in an ever-changing world’ and ‘safe and responsible use of tech’, but for this age range of children aged 8-11 years who have perhaps never known what it’s like to get lost in a car, miss a TV show broadcast once or NOT get Google to answer a question in sub 2 seconds, what does it mean to them?  And what exactly is it?

“Oh Crumbs!” was possibly the first thought but last opinion on my mind at the announcement last year that Dangermouse and Penfold were coming back to our screens in 2015.  And it’s given me the basis of an investigative project looking at the impact of the IOT on one of our favourite superheroes.


With the all-new series launching this year, will Dangermouse have changed in any way?

How can tech, wearable or not, and the IOT make him a more effective hero?

Introducing and defining the Internet of Things and getting children to think of ways to improve his explorative and crime-fighting credentials brought out some insightful soundbites that I’ll share in more detail at a later date.

Dangermouse 2015

The Oxford Dictionary defines the IOT as:

“The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data”

And thoughts from Y4:

“It’s the centre of technology.”

“Where all the important stuff and data goes about people’s lifestyle. Like what they do in the day (and night), where they go, how they get there and who they’re with.”

“It should make life easier but you need to be careful about sharing your personal information.”

And more investigations from Y4:

Once they started to consider the supercharging of a superhero approach with the IOT, then other questions started to arise.

  • Can pirates ever escape when all the information about what they’re doing is in one place?
  • What could we find out about the Loch Ness Monster if Nessie was connected to the IOT?
  • What does the Beast of Bodmin really get up to? We could find out!
  • How can my football team get even better and win the title?
  • Will my dad never have to do the supermarket shoppping on the computer, then?

Interesting thoughts and realisations maybe to consider at some point 🙂

What’s next?

We’re moving to the next phase of projects looking at the impact of health data on educational attainment and also extending decision making opportunities using environmental data as a citizenship project.

Schools, teachers and learners have piloted technologies and data collection on a fairly small scale but now we’re at the point of embracing portal tech to support big data.  And if I talk about disregarding geography, I mean in a barrier to collection sense.   I’m keen to think about comparative studies either side of the Pennines.

All through those amazing opportunities that come from working and learning with large numbers of teachers and children from primary, secondary and SEN schools in a couple of cities with a focus on inclusive Computing.  If there was ever an opening for a big data project…….there is and there are.

On reflection

Sometimes there’s a difference in reaction from adults and children to the ideas and capabilities of the IOT.  No sharp intake of breath from the children about privacy concerns or transfer of information but they communicate a strong message reinforced from e-safety lessons.  Perhaps when tech has always been at the core of a digital native’s life that brings with it the sense of ever an evolving world?  And with differing priorities due to experiences, knowledge and the outlook of adults? That’s a huge piece of research and not one that we’ll ever formalise…….great to get snippets to share, though.

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