Dynamic Dragonfly on Hyacinth Bean Branch
Dec 2016 – Jan 2017
Dynamic Dragonfly on Hyacinth Bean Branch is a reproduction of the traditional Chinese embroidery work from the Ming Dynasty. It employs thermochromic dye and conductive thread to stimulate color change in response to users’ operation.
Motivation and Related Work
Traditional Chinese Embroidery
Chinese embroidery has a long history and various styles. Gu embroidery is a family style originated from Gu Mingshi’s family during the Ming Dynasty in Shanghai. Han Ximeng, the wife of the second grandson of Gu Mingshi developed the skill and was reputed as “Needle Saint”. Dragonfly on Hyacinth Bean Branch is one of her masterpieces.
Fiber Art is a kind of fine art stemming from European Tapestry which also embeds the concept of contemporary art. It encourages artists to utilize various materials, not only fabric but also plastic, resin, metal, even human hairs. This open-ended art genre creates plenty of space for experiment. For example, the combination with electronic components.
There are a lot of excellent interactive work and smart textile made by fashion designers, artists, makers, engineers and HCI researchers. A collection of these work can be seen on my blogger.
The technology of this work was mainly inspired by “I don’t Want to Wear a Screen”: Probing Perceptions of and Possibilities for Dynamic Displays on Clothing ( Laura Devendorf, Joanne Lo, Noura Howell, Jung Lin Lee, Nan-Wei Gong, M. Emre Karagozler, Shiho Fukuhara, Ivan Poupyrev, Eric Paulos, Kimiko Ryoaki. 2016).
Method & Process
In the first sketch, I expected the embroidery to change color quickly like a gif or a low frame rate animation. But the experimental result shows it is not possible because it takes about one minute to change color.
I want to present traditional embroidery work in a new way.
Construction & Prototype
Part I Embroidery
Challenge 1: Dyeing Thread
First, I tried several suppliers to find the best thermochromic dye.
I need to dye the thread myself. The pigment is similar to acrylic paint. And because it changes color when the temperature is higher than 30°C, I cannot use the most common boiling and dyeing approach. At first the dyeing is quite inefficient, then I made a winder to enhance the efficiency. I was able to dye about 5m/h.
Part II Circuit
How does it work?
- Convert electric energy to heat energy Component
Components: Arduino, Transistor, Battery
Challenge 2: Use TIP122 as the switch
Part of Experiment Record (Chinese)
- Time for color change is too long.
- As an item for exhibition in the museum, the work is not stable enough. Thermochromic pigment only works for a certain period.
- The connection of wires and thread is too fragile. As a result, color changing may not work if the work is moved or shaken vigorously .
Challenge 3: The complexity that comes from embroidery itself.
Start and End Point
The starting point and the ending point should be connected to positive and negative electrode respectively. Otherwise there will be no current on the swatch, which results in no color change.
Area of Embroidery
One thread can only control a small area of embroidery. As a result, before the embroidery, I need to sketch the areas accurately.
Thanks for Noura Howell’s kind help and sharing of their experiment details.