Crafting and Technology

As humans we like to compartmentalize things. Knitting is one craft, sewing is another. Woodworking is one hobby while gardening is another. We seem determined not to let things blend together. This is particularly true with crafting and technology. Crafting is seen as the ultimate 'old school' activity and crafters as luddites who shun technology. The whole goal of crafting is to return to our pre-tech overloaded roots. On the other hand, technology is the realm of the geeky young male whole likes to code and make robots. 

But do they have to be separate? Can craft and tech get along? 

Yes! And with some great results. 

In fact, craft and tech have been intertwined since the beginning. In its day, the loom was a hot bit of tech and we have consistently used technology to improve our textiles (along with many other aspects of our lives). 

But you are probably thing of technology as we view it today- electronics. Computers, smart phones, coding and the like. In our minds the word technology conjures images of humanoid robots and realistic video games so it may be hard to fathom how technology and crafting could go together. Here is an example: 

The above photo is of a needle felted scene I recently made. If you look closely at the left side of the mushroom, just under the cap, you will notice a light spot. That is from a micro LED light which I felted INTO the mushroom. 

Here is a night shot. There are actually two small LEDs- one on each side of the mushroom stem. 

This little lamp is just one example of the many amazing and fun things that can be created when we blend crafting and technology. And it is not even that hard! (I will do a whole post about how I made this needle felted lamp but for now I want to focus on the possibilities of combining craft and tech.) 

As computers, lights and other electronic components become smaller, wireless or cheaper they become easier to integrate into our every day lives- which includes our crafting. Here are just a few pieces of tech which can be incorporated into your crafting. 

LED Lights

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode...whatever that means. The important thing to know with LEDs is that they are small, bright and use very little power. They also don't get hot like traditional light bulbs which is why I could felt them into a mushroom and not have to worry about it catching on fire. 

LEDs come in a variety of sizes and colors and they can even be set up to flash or turn on and off with sound. Combine your LEDs with conductive thread and make your quilt light up- check out the video below. 

Conductive Thread 

Conductive thread is usually either silver or stainless steal thread that can be sewn into fabric and will conduct the electrical current from a battery to a light or other electronics. 

This short video will explain it better than I can. (And yes, this is basically an ad for Adafruit but they are really awesome and have great informative videos.) 

Mini Computers 

If you are looking to up your game even further then you can add a mini computer to your crafting. With small and inexpensive programable computers such as Raspberry Pi now available you can make more complex projects. For example, you could needle felt a dog with a robotic skeleton and program it to do tricks. Or you could program your lights in an art quilt to turn on and off at certain times. 

More Options- that I really have no idea what they are but are super cool. 

I've only just begun my journey down the rabbit hole of crafting and technology but there are many people out there that have created amazing things. Right now a popular way of combining crafting and technology is in the form of 'wearables' or clothing and costumes that integrate lights and sound. Costumes for special events are particularly popular such as Comicon. 

Putting technology into my clothes is probably not something that I will be doing any time soon but that doesn't mean I can't take these ideas and put them into something else. I found this video that shows what is out there in the realm of actual possibility. 

Amazing, right? I never would have even thought those kinds of sensors excited- let alone put them in a hat! If they can do that then just think of the possibilities for your crafting! Light up a fairy house- easy. Make your own light up sneakers- done. Have your wallpaper turn on when you enter a room- sure. Program your embroidery to speak as people pass by- why not? 

At this point the only limit is your creativity (and possibly your budget but many of these wearables are reasonably priced.) There are also great crafts for kids to get into because they learn skills such as sewing but also how electronics work and how fun science can be. 

This post is by no means an complete list of all the possible intersections between crafting and technology but I hope it gives you some ideas of what you could do. Explore the resources below to learn more about the multitude of options available. And don't forget to search Youtube for inspiration and technical help. It is so great these days that people love sharing what they are doing so that you can do it as well. 

So think about a simple project that you could do to dip your toe into the realm of crafting and technology. The two don't have to be mutually exclusive. 

Happy Crafting with Tech!

 

Resources 

Adafruit

Sparkfun

Model Train Software