The following sockpuppets are made as examples for the Soft Sensors for Soft Bodies workshop at the 2015 NODE Festival in Frankfurt, Germany. The plan is to hook up the sensors on these sockpuppets to the VVVV software via an running Firmata. Then we can map the sensor data to puppeteer virtual puppets or make silly noises.
Meet Armin, Benny, Samantha and Wendy:
The following step-by-step instructions explain how each of these four sock puppets were made.
Armin the Anxious Animal
Armin is a augmented sockpuppet with textile sensors integrated in his mouth. A three-way contact switch can tell what facial expression Armin is making, and an analogcan tell how hard he is squeezing his nose when his mouth is clenched tight.
Inside Armin’s Mouth:
Benny the Baboon
Benny is equipped with 2 kinds of sensors.inside the mouth to detect the talking/mouth movement and stretch sensor on the neck to get the head banging movement.
Step by Step Making
Trace the bottom of the sock shape onto paper. This will become the inside of the mouth for the puppet. Cut out the into the shape you traced on the paper.
Sew the felt and the sock together.
Stuff some cotton to make the nose shape. If you do not want big nose, you can skip this part
Apply thin strip of on the center of the mouth part. I have used fusible ( glue) to stick it with iron.
Cut out Eeonyx non-woven resistive fabric and Felt to desired size for bend sensor. Make sure to cut the Eeonyx a bit smaller than the outer felt layer (orange). Apply thin strips of conductive fabric on the outer layer felt (orange). Layer the materials as Base (green felt) > conductive fabric strip > Eeonyx > conductive fabric strip > outer layer (orange felt). Then sew them together with normal thread.
Cut out small strip of Eeonyx stretch fabric and fix 2 points on the back of Benny’s neck. This will work as stretch sensor and detect the head movement. Stitch the each end of the Eeonyx fabric with to extend the connection to the edge of the sock.
Add small pieces of conductive fabric at the edge of the sock to make tabs for connecting with crocodile clips. Make the connection between sensors and tabs with conductive thread. Use zigzag stitch so the thread will not snap when the sock is stretched.
Samantha the Silly Snake
Samantha is a snake and she is silly. A fabric bend sensor in her mouth captures her slow and slurry speech and when she is connected to the right computer program this allows her to make silly noises, tell funny stories and control funky animations.
Samantha’s Bend Sensor:
The Resistance of Samantha’s Mouth:
Wendy the Wise Widget
For this puppet, I wanted two long moving eyes, like snails. First, I tried the sock on my arm, and as it was a bit too long, I’ve cut off the tip of the sock.
Now, mark where the fingers are going to be, and sew the finger shape with sewing machine. Try it out until it gives a good fit. Then cut off the parts between the fingers.
Make stretch sensor by knitting the into thin tube with knitting mill. Thread the yarn through the mill, start off the first round of knitting with one needle on (hook), one needle off (skip to hook). After you go through the first round (1 turn of the mill, 4 needles) then start turning the mill’s arm continuously.
When you knit enough length of the tube, cut off the yarn and continue turning the arm. The tube will drop off from the needles. Close off the edge loops using crochet hook. Cut off the tube into the length of the sensor you need, and close off the edge with crochet hooks.
Make eyes with pompoms. Connect two of them together with thread and tie the end. Then attache the finished eye on top of the finger parts.
Attache the stretch sensor onto the finger part. Make sure that it gets stretched when you bend the fingers.
Make squeeze sensor. Cut off small piece of stretch sensor, stuff it with some cotton and close the edge. Attache some conductive thread on each end to make the connection to the rest of the circuit. Place it inside the socks where it is going to be the mouth with extra cotton.
Add small pieces of conductive fabric at the edge of the sock to make tabs for connecting with crocodile clips. Make the connection between sensors and tabs with conductive thread.
Connecting Sockpuppets with the Arduinos
PD sample patch is here
Materials and Tools
– stretch conductive fabric
– conductive thread
– resistive yarn
– steel wool
– felt (thick and thin)
– coloured thread
– other fabric
– stuffing wool
– laptop dongle for projector
– sewing needles
– pin cushions
– crocodile clips
– jumper wires
– paper and pens