Flipping STEAM

Looking forward to getting my hands on the new Molecularis flipbook when it ships in August.

Great taster, and fun, by way of a surprise PDF with the shipping survey from their recent Kickstarter campaign.



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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Exploring recycled treasure at Scrap Leeds

I managed to pop into the Scrap Leeds Creative Reuse Art Project in Farsley this week, having heard so much about their amazing projects and space in the city.

Wow, what a treasure trove for creatives and makers!


Annual membership £6/year

Now that I’ve got my membership I’ll be popping back again soon to join the community making use and reuse of recycled materials at home, in schools, across the city and through workshops at the space.

I got the chance to take a peek at the fantastic Tinker Lab upstairs. A host of MakerEd projects are ever evolving and I really wanted to explore the robotics art projects on display.


Robot Art


Tinker Lab


Artistic Iterations

Now always on the lookout to extend a Maker library, I’m probably late to hear about Rusty the Squeaky Robot and the resulting adventures at a faraway planet.


Rusty the (Yorkshire) Rusty Robot

I’ve proudly come away with the book about Rusty who was designed and created in Leeds.  We’ll be checking out the games and the storytelling from the accompanying app too.  A true Yorkshire robot!


With a bagful of treasure, a headful of ideas and a bucket load of enthusiasm I came away from Scrap Leeds seeing again how the Maker community continues to grow and create such a buzz around the city.


George & Mildred: Camels in Residence

Link to full photo gallery from my visit here

Robotic Art on the Left Bank of the River Aire?

Since the last Raspberry Jam in Leeds, back in July, it’s been on my mind to try out more activities with the Watercolorbot.

That Summer’s day event was hosted at Digital Garage, with the backdrop of Leeds Dock, and it got me thinking about real-time art applications and projects.

Robotic art possibilities on the Leeds’ Left Bank?


Wanted: Artist’s brush or input tool

In the last couple of weeks I’ve also been intrigued about AI with art for data visualisations and in particular the AI Painter project.

We’ve been manipulating images and taking art as a medium for data visualisation pieces, alongside further considerations with WaterColorBot as a hackable tool.

And so my fundamental aim shifted and started to centre around opportunities to add a graphics tablet as an input device to manipulate images and create a painted output.

all compoenents

Painting by Stylus?

‘Painting by Stylus’ and ‘Paint Brushed with Watercolorbot’ were the intended outcomes but drivers were a stumbling block when connecting the different components for the hardware I was seeking.


Photoshop possibilities?

Until another collaboration with a colleague last week, who was successfully using AstroPad to give graphics tablet functionality through an iPad.


Tools from the ‘Graphics Tablet’

That’s given me opportunities to explore and manipulate data through Photoshop and AstroPad tools, using the stylus on the iPad, and also with a connected workspace through the Macbook and Watercolorbot.


Connected tools

It’s early days yet with example activities tested to add layers using Photoshop. That’s given a stimulus to add custom brush strokes to some images or take sections to modify or display with alternative data visualisation examples and manipulated outputs.

#GonePainting.  Back soon.

STEM to STEAM with a Paint-off Challenge

Think I might’ve sounded a little grumpy lately. Waiting expectantly for a Watercolorbot is one thing but tackling the delivery service encountering comms barriers is another *.

Continually looking for approaches and resources to support the Research and Play, I thought this could be a project to explore areas for inclusive computing opportunities and the ease of transition from STEM to STEAM.

And in terms of raising aspirations and introducing more role models it seemed like an ideal opportunity.


Click to launch video clip

Ease of use?  Wow – out of the box, software installed and first artwork created and printed in under 20 minutes.

What happened then?  That was the Sunday Paint-off; hand over to the under-10s and see what they discover.  Plug and go then reflect and plan.  And they discover that they can build on skills using Scratch to create!

Next steps?  

  • Evaluation of impact through enrichment and/or formal curriculum activities.
  • Secondary phase evaluation to include mainstream and special schools.
  • Hack opportunities if a Raspberry Pi powered the board and then which areas of the curriculum could it support?
  • Used as a visualisation tool how could current data projects be incorporated?

Now some teachers have used the littleBits resource boxes in Hull to support STEM clubs and a Raspberry Pi Club.   Wonder if we’ll go retro with a Raspberry Pi powered Etch A Sketch?   I certainly hope so 🙂


* At one point the parcel looked to be heading straight back to California on a flight. Those similarities of location from a regular commute past the Humber Bridge kept frustrations at the forefront of my mind, and from where #BoomerangArt was born…