Francis Bitonti’s New Skins Workshop 2015 at Digits2Widgets, London

Containers of work to be opened!

After staying in writing over Xmas and New Year, I was very excited to escape the confines of my desk to join Francis Bitonti’s New Skins Workshop on computational design for textiles, for two weeks at Digits2Widgets 3D printing bureau in Camden.

The workshops consisted of alternating tutorials on techniques for creating 3D textile meshes in Autodesk Maya and Rhino 3D software, and also writing Processing sketches for 3D graphics. The workshops were taught by Francis Bitonti and Arthur Azoulai.

Tom modelling textures on the body in Rhino 3D
Tom’s work on wrapping mesh to make a shirt around a body.

Our first week started off by creating meshes for the body in skirt and shirt like forms in Rhino 3D. We then experimented with various mesh techniques to apply varied distributions of extruded geometric shapes on to a mesh. Going on to concentrate on creating interlocking aspects of a circle, we created a repeated template that could be used to create chainmail in Rhino 3D.

Magdalena making chain mail in Rhino
Magdalena making chain mail for textiles in Rhino 3D.

In Maya we played with primitive polygon shapes and then experimented with them in the animation timeline to flip and tween between shapes, which we could then start to turn into mesh textiles by joining them together.

New Skins Workshop montage
L-R work by Victoria, Ezmeralda, Tom and Ioana.

After discussing our ideas and designs for what we would like to individually create, we spent a couple of days building our own meshes. Every .STL file was checked over and fixed in Materialise’s very useful app, Magics (which I wish I could afford for future work!), before sending to the SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) machine to be turned into real objects via the magic of a laser zapping powdered nylon.

New Skins Workshop montage
L-R work by Nada, Magdalena, me and Carmen.

Whilst the objects in the machine were being turned around, which takes several hours as the cubicle inside the machine stacks up several files / containers of work to be processed at a time, we did some examples of Processing sketches to create 3D graphics. We also learned about other software packages such as ZBrush, which is a powerful 3D sculpturing tool for manipulating 3D objects and looks like amazing fun to play with.

Two heart shapes for a locket to contain electronics
My design shaping up in Rhino 3D.

AnemoneStarsHeart pieces
The container with my heart halves inside just opened by Johnathan!

Of course the most exciting part of the two-weeks was receiving the containers from the SLS machine, with the fruits of our creativity neatly concealed inside! I created a heart-shaped shell enclosure /pendant with a repeated star mesh to create an anemone-like effect. This was created to house the electronics and act as a diffuser of data in the form of coloured light for the next iteration of my EEG Visualising Pendant. The pendant amplifies and visualises attention and meditation EEG data from the wearer via a NeuroSky EEG headset.

AnemoneStarsHeart heart lit up with live EEG data
AnemoneStarsHeart lit up with live EEG data from my brainz!

Rain & AnemoneStarsHeart heart lit up with live EEG data
AnemoneStarsHeart lit up with live EEG data via Bluetooth NeuroSky MindWave headset.

Many thanks to Francis, Arthur, Jonathan and the staff at D2W for a great two weeks of fun and excellent hospitality, plus not forgetting the lovely attendees of the workshop who were fab to hang out with.

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