Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Project 5- E-Textiles- Amanda Wolfe

For the past two weeks we learned about sewing, digital embroidery, and soft circuits. I was excited as I have done basic hand sewing and some clothing alteration using a sewing machine before, but have never tried embroidery or soft circuits before. I think having some prior knowledge about sewing did help me to complete this assignment as I was able to problem solve as I went instead of having to focus solely on how to do each step. I found an image on the internet of some cacti that I thought could be simple and cute sewn onto a bag. I edited the image in Photoshop first to reduce the number of colors, then added it to PE Design 10. I struggled with this for a while, trying the different options for converting the image into stitching, and for some reason it was creating really strange results, making shapes that looked nothing like the image. I eventually realized if you keep the image REALLY large before transforming it to the stitch that it created a much better result. If I knew this before, it would have saved me 2 hours of fiddling with the program, so others might be able to avoid this problem if they complete this with images from google as well. The embroidery was a tad difficult as I chose a thin stretchy fabric, and after my first attempt failed, I ironed on a backing to make it a bit more sturdy and this solved the issue.

Original Image:                                                  Photoshopped:


Embroidery Design and Execution:

I think the embroidery came out really clean, I liked the design I chose, and the fabrics and zipper coordinate well. I was able to sew the soft circuit without any issues, making sure to strategically place the LEDs so the conductive thread would not cross, and the stitches would not be too awkwardly placed in the front embroidery. And I attached the zipper without issue, but when I sewed the bag together the zipper area was a bit difficult to line up, there is a gap in the bag. I also would try to clean up the fabric before closing the bag, because I chose such a thin white fabric you can see the excess through the front.

Soft Circuit:

Putting together the bag:              Mistake in sewing:


Overall, I felt I reached the goals I set out, one disappointing thing was the soft circuit now only works once and awhile because I chose to sew it inside the bag- on the back of the outside liner. This means I can’t fiddle with the strings to make sure they are taught to fix the connection without cutting a hole in the inner liner to reach the circuit, but then the bag wouldn’t function as well, because something inside might mess with the circuit. I enjoyed this lab, it was a bit stressful as so many people needed the tools in the lab at one time. I am interested in learning and attempting more e-textile projects in the future.

Final Product:

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Project 4: 3D Printing- Amanda Wolfe

Over the past 2 weeks we learned about 3D modelling, scanning and printing. As we learned Sculptris and TinkerCAD, I didn’t have many ideas for what I might do for this lab, I thought that maybe I would 3D scan something and alter it to be some sort of functional art piece. I liked the example Duncan mentioned in class about someone 3D scanning themselves then altering their appearance into Link from the Legend of Zelda, and making it into a pencil holder. However, when we actually did the scanning and had difficulty getting the obj into Sculptris I decided I wanted to do something else as I think it would be easiest to edit this type of project in Sculptris instead of TinkerCAD.









So, I shifted my attention to the second prompt:

“Imagine a themed set of flatware or dishes for dining that is more interesting or creative than existing versions. This will involve designing several parts for a set that are tied together in some substantive way. You may wish to consider certain sorts of users as well as places people eat, or specific kinds of foods that they might match.”

And searched for some ideas in class to get started. I first thought of designing a new/interesting shaped wine glass, with some design inside the cup portion, however I realized this design would be much more effective if the material was transparent. I began next to think about how wasteful plastic silverware is and how annoying it is to transport real silverware back and forth when you pack a lunch (coming home having to clean it, carrying around dirty silverware all day, etc.). I considered how it might be useful to have a contained silverware, that can be reused and kept with you to be washed at home (without it being loose in your bag) and decided to attempt a Swiss Army style silverware set.

I created my storyboard prior to designing the product. The first image is someone short on time trying to eat lunch at the office, however, they are upset by their options, disposable silverware, or having to carry silverware from home and wash it. They realize the implications of completing both options for every lunch they take at work (M-F). Someone introduces the product, “swiss army silverware”, which makes them happier to have a convenient and sustainable option for reusable takeout silverware. 

Next, I began the design process in TinkerCAD, and I realized how difficult it was going to be to even make a super simplified version of this technology. I utilized the different shapes, stars merged into points for the fork, squares, and cylinders and all relatively basic shapes merged as “holes” and solid pieces to create 3 silverware: fork, spoon, and knife to be included in the set, all movable around a peg.


I wanted to also create the capsule for these to be contained, with pieces to hold it all together, however, upon speaking with the cu fab lab staff they suggested the capsule be made with 3D laser cutting. I was unable to do this portion, but hope to at some point. I did make the connection points with the 3D printer for where the peg would insert into the capsule for when I am able to make the capsule.

 Image result for swiss army knife inside 

Example of what I mean by capsule( the part that encloses the set of tools)



The design in TinkerCAD was very time consuming and I had to think about functionality (the moving parts) as well as the practicality of the object being printed. I also had to think about some spatial and physical design aspects I don’t usually get to work through and I enjoyed it! I realized I am not bad at solving physical/spatial problems, which I have previously thought and been told. I was very skeptical about the design printing as we discussed in lab, things that have a large base are best, and my final design was raised above in the air and needed tree supports. I originally considered printing each flatware piece across a base, and the post separately and putting the whole thing together after, but decided to risk printing it stacked on the pin.


One issue, I ran into was when we scaled down the design the knife printed very thin and should be redone to be much thicker. Also the handles have some holes as a similar problem of the thinness of design. I think conceptually I had the right ideas, however I should print another iteration to solve these problems and still need to see how the capsule would function with the moving pieces, to see if my ideas will actually function well.


Overall I feel proud of myself for taking on something that forced me to work through 3D design structurally, how the moving parts function, and how these separate entities would work together. I enjoyed pushing myself a bit into a conceptual space I am usually uncomfortable with and feel that I accomplished what I set out to do.


Final product and the storyboard “happy ending” depicted in real life 

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Project 3- Copper Tape Circuit- Amanda Wolfe

For this lab I was interested in trying to do an origami figure with a copper tape circuit incorporated into it. Originally, I found a relatively simple tulip origami instruction page that I folded to see if there was a way to create a circuit inside, but the tulip had 2 separate pieces and there was no way to connect the circuit to both pieces, and the flower part would be too heavy with the battery and would probably not stand up if the circuit was inside, but the stem would not allow the light through. So, I decided to pick something more simple. I folded a fortune teller, the only origami I still remember how to make without instructions from when I was a kid. I thought this would be more interactive than the tulip as the game requires the use of different colors usually drawn on the surface of the paper, and by using lights it would have a similar effect! I folded a draft one and examined it to see where all the parts might fit best. I drew a draft circuit of this with the help of my peer in the class Sarah Bucchorn, as she had already completed an origami circuit and I had a hard time remembering how to draw the parallel circuits.


As I was short on time, I did not actually put the draft one together, instead I chose the origami paper I wanted to use, and just created the circuit drawing from the draft onto my final version with the copper tape, batteries, and 4 LED sticker lights. I got lucky and everything connected and worked the first try! I made two different circuits, with one battery each, and 2 LEDs in parallel. I knew I wanted to use 4 different colors, for the colors you choose in the beginning of the game, but I knew the colors needed to be near each other on the visible spectrum to be on the same circuit, so I used red and orange on one, and blue and green on the other.


I didn’t realize that the origami paper I chose was a bit thicker, and the pattern covered the lights a bit, so I think I would chose a white paper if I made the project again. I also realized that the way the paper was folded I couldn’t get the lights all the way in the corner to best show through the top, so I might would consider using the regular lights instead of the sticker ones as they might be a bit more flexible in where I can place them. I also accidentally made the switches in slightly different locations so when you squeeze the fortune teller you have to place one hand slightly lower on one side than the other to get all 4 lights on at the same time. Overall, I think I was most proud of creating a product more efficiently than I have been able to complete the others so far. I think the demos in class helped me to think through any issues before creating this final project.

Draft Circuit

First Circuit 

Full Circuit

Both Switches

Final Product

(There is also a video of the final product that for some reason is making the whole blog post disappear)

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Project #2: Multilayer Vinyle – Amanda Wolfe

Before coming to the lab on Vinyl Stickers I knew I had looked ahead at some of the tutorials and knew I wanted to make an Austin, Texas themed sticker, something that I associate with home and that I could put on my laptop or car. I began searching Pinterest and Google for ideas and eventually came across “Austin” written in a font I liked, and Itraced this by hand in Adobe Illustrator. This took some time, but I wanted to use a creative hand drawn font to make it more unique. From this I had originally thought of adding different elements for all the things I liked about Austin, and sketched out a first draft before class.

When I actually went through the exercises to learn how the silhouette machines worked I quickly realized that this first draft I made would be too messy, just adding Bluebonnets on such a small design would make it look to chaotic. So, I simplified things and found some Austin Skyline silhouettes to work with. I found one that had many colored layers (13+) and I separated these out to only 2 layers that I wanted to add to the design to make it more two dimensional (as I felt only one silhouette would be too flat).

I realized the silhouettes went outside my circle sticker base, and were too short for the circle (there would be a hole at the bottom. So, I added a rectangle to the bottom of the skylines to lengthen them and clipped the features by the circle outline. I had to do this step a couple times because I realized my silhouettes were not lined up at the same spot in the circle.

In the lab I printed 2 versions of this sticker, first one with a light background and dark lettering than one with a dark background and light lettering I wanted to play with the contrasting colors to see how it affected the overall look of the design. I liked both versions, even with the same design the colors added a different tone to the overall design.

I think if I could print another I would add a few more layers to the city skyline, and maybe utilize a gradient of colors, rather than unique colors to enhance the dimension of that graphic. I think the multiple colors are a bit distracting for such a small design. I am rather proud of these stickers, mostly I enjoyed spending a lot of time thinking about the design before learning how to utilize the machines I think this helped me to be more creative and not limited by any previous sticker cutting experiences.


Final Stickers

Layers of the Stickers

Adobe Draft Before Class

Hand Traced Text

City Skyline Inspiration

Font Inspiration

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Project 1- Laser Name Tag

For the first project, we made laser cut name tags. I have attempted to make laser cut business cards before, so I had tinkered with the laser cutter once prior to this project and knew the basics of raster versus vector for the machine. I had never utilized Inkscape before, but found it had similar tools to other programs I had used before, so it wasn’t difficult to learn before making a design.

I decided that I first wanted to explore the materials as I think what material you use can change what design elements I could use. I chose to utilize acrylic, first, before making my design. I found the green acrylic and liked that it was matte on side and shiny on the other. I realized this might make the design more interesting with the different textures.

I noticed some acrylic sheets in the lab that had names cut out as a vector, and thought this would look nice on this material. I found out from Sara that there is a font (STENCIL) that would be able to keep the smaller pieces attached. I tried to find other stencil fonts online to download into Inkscape, but struggled to import these and went with the one available on Inkscape. I liked the green color and felt that if used a nature themed name tag, it would compliment the material and I also like designs that are based off nature. I went with a sunflower (raster), and the tag in the shape of a leaf with some etched details on the edge.

I really liked how it came out, I think I would’ve liked to make a more complicated design, but I think I will get more ideas as I delve further into making. 



Finished Name Tag

Inkscape file

In progress

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