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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    From 2013-2015 Mika is a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley


    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab


    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition
    Technique

    Weaving Conductive Fabric

    Commercially available conductive fabrics are mostly evenly coated basic woven and knit structures. There is nothing fancy, distinct or particularity interesting about their aesthetic appeal. They are metallic, shiny and uniform. What if you could weave your own conductive fabrics. For one you could tailor the electrical properties of the fabric to your own designs, and for another you could add colour, texture, patterns and aesthetic qualities to the material. This post goes over an example of weaving your own conductive fabric to incorporate some of these elements.

    Related Links:
    Making-of Involving the Machines >> http://www.kobakant.at/?p=241
    Involving the Machines Collection >> http://www.kobakant.at/?p=432

    This post covers the process of weaving based on three different setups: a hand loom, a computerized hand loom and an industrial jacquard loom.

    The following is not meant to be read as step-by-step instructions, rather it is documentation of a particular process that gives an overview.

    Weaving on The Hand Loom

    Front and back of a string of sample pieces woven on the hand loom.

    Using The Computerized Hand Loom

    Software: Weavepoint >> http://www.weavepoint.com/
    dataformat: FILE.wpo


    Working with the Industrial Jacquard Loom

    Software: PC Weave, PC Edit
    Software: ScottWeave >> http://www.scotweave.com/about/a-scotweave-timeline/
    dataformat: FILE.EP

    The process of creating a weaving pattern with PC Weave, a terribly inflexible software. The newer version of the software, called Scottweave looks to be much better and has a more intuitive workflow.

    Design your Pattern

    When you think about designing a textile pattern you have the end-result in mind. But to get from the pattern you have in mind to a fabric you have to deconstruct your pattern into the threads and bindings it will be made up of.

    Understanding Bindings

    This step is almost impossible to do thoughtfully before you have run through the whole process and experienced what the results of a pattern you have made are. So don’t worry if this step does not make sense right away.
    Basically what you need to plan, in order to turn your pattern into a weaving pattern is how the threads you plan to use in your fabric with weave in and out of the warp to create the different colours and textures you have in mind.
    Bindings are noted in the following format, where black indicates the warp thread and white the weft thread. On the right side of the binding notation you can note which weft thread is being addressed, because you might be using multiple different colours.

    Here are examples of three different bindings. The first is an 8-shaft binding (because it repeats every 8 wefts) that addresses only one thread. Despite the fact that the second two bindings are 16 squares high, thtey are also 8-shaft bindings because every other row addresses a different thread. The thread addressed is indicated by the black square to the left of the binding pattern.

    Here is an image taken from the Scottweave website that might help give a better idea of what the binding patterns represent.

    Create the Pattern in Illustrator

    Once you have a rough idea of how bindings will influence your design pattern you can start to create a weaving design of your original design. This entails dividing your design into areas that will have different binding patterns, while they may optically look like the same surface.
    based on your Use colours to differentiate not just your resulting pattern but how you will have to divide the pattern up into different bindings. Use different colours to differentiate areas that will be made up of different bindings. These colours do not represent the final design.

    Create your Bindings

    I found it convenient to label my pattern and then go and design the bindings for the different areas.

    The following illustration shows the binding patterns with the bindings coloured in to match the different types of threads i want to use.

    Legend of thread colours:

    Once you have imported your pattern into the weaving software it will allow you to map different bindings to the different colour areas of your pattern, resulting in something like this.

    Open in PC Weave

    To open your pattern design in the weaving software you first want to make sure the image is RGB and does not have any anti-aliasing between colour fields.
    When exporting your pattern from Illustrator, select high resolution, RGB colour and un-tick the anti-alias check-box. Then open your Pattern in Photoshop to further reduce any anti-aliasing that still might have occured. In Photoshop select Image –> Mode –> Indexed Colour. And then copy your image to your clipboard (select All >> Copy).

    Open PC weave and it will automatically open the image stored on your clipboard.
    Weave. In PC Weave rescale your image depending on the types of bindings, thickness of your threads and setup of the machine you are weaving on (this knowledge comes from experience). If necessary reduce colours to only the number of colours you have in your file.

    Assign bindings to the colours you used in your pattern and then PC Weave can create a weaving pattern from your file.

    The weaving pattern will look somewhat like this. On the left side of the pattern the grid is left blank. This is where you can now go back in and assign which thread gets used in which part of the binding. Not the most user-friendly software. And if you want to make any changes, you have to repeat this whole process of importing, rescaling and assigning binding patterns again.

    The Results

    Front and back of fabric.

    Related Work

    Barbara Layne >> http://subtela.hexagram.ca/CV.html

    Maggie Orth’s woven thermochromic displays >> http://www.maggieorth.com/

    Lynne Bruning’s Instructables >> http://www.instructables.com/member/Lynne+Bruning/
    >> http://www.etextilelounge.com/2012/10/19/starlight-etextile-table-runner/

    Elin Igland’s Work:
    Woven piano hanging >> http://ateliernord.no/prosjektarkiv/soft-technology/soft-technology-pa-galleri-314/elin-igland/
    >> http://www.khib.no/norsk/studentarbeid/avgangsutstillinger/tidligere-avgangsutstillinger/avgangsutstillinger-2009/elin-igland-et-piano-og-en-tekstil-vevnad/

    Jaquard Woven Synthesizer

    OS LOOM >> http://www.osloom.org/

    Ilan Moyer’s loom >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=3500

    4 Comments so far

    1. KOBAKANT on October 18th, 2012

      […] For documentation of the final outcome of this research project please visit the following links: Involving the Machines Collection >> http://www.kobakant.at/?p=432 Weaving conductive fabric >> http://www.kobakant.at/DIY/?p=3649 […]

    2. KOBAKANT on October 18th, 2012

      […] documentation page. For more information about how these fabrics were woven, please visit the Weaving Conductive Fabric […]

    3. Plusea on October 19th, 2012

      […] For more information please visit the following links: >> Involving the Machines Collection >> “Making-of” Involving the Machines >> Weaving Conductive Fabric […]

    4. […] Perner-Wilson – Weaving Conductive Fabric | Making of… | […]

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