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Sewing Machines vs. Sewing Circuits
By: Jenna SHENTON

Published: 05/09/2008

If sewing machines and hand-made curtains conjure up images of your grandmother, prepare for a revival of yesteryear with the release of Syuzi Pakhchyan’s new Do-It-Yourself guide for the modern, creative woman. Think knitting plus fibre optics.

Syuzi Pakhchyan is the author of Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting, a guide that has already impressed tech-savvy readers with its seamless fusion of technology and craft.

Released on July 1, Fashioning Technology revolves around the use of 'smart materials' along with traditional crafts such as knitting, felting and sewing.

These unique materials include phosphorescent or colour-changing ink, LED lights, polymorph or hand-sculpting plastic, fibre optics and conductive Velcro.

"'Smart materials', unlike ordinary materials, have this amazing ability to actually change their properties as a result of their stimulus and their environment," Ms Pakhchyan told Word of Mouth Radio.

By combining dynamic materials with all forms of sewing, Fashioning Technology teaches the reader how to create a carry bag that lights up when your mobile phone inside it rings, LED bracelets and electronic finger puppets.

Fashion Technology aims to inspire readers to take on innovative, challenging activities.

Colour-changing blinds are created by replacing conventional inks with photochromic inks, so different patterns are formed when exposed to UV light.

To make a luminescent table, phosphorescent ink is used to create a design that absorbs sunlight during the day and produces light at night.

"It's really about the cross-pollination of craft," Ms Pakhchyan said.

"My interest in it is you get someone who is a felter who wants to learn a little bit about dabbling with electronics to actually create something new and different by actually felting a circuit.

"When I start working on projects generally I think about the narrative and actual end experience of something, not just about the form and the function," Ms Pakhchyan said of her creative process.

Syuzi Pakhchyan has received praise for her ability to explore the connection between culture and technology, and present complex ideas in jargon-free language.

Transistors, resistors, diodes and capacitors are all explained in simple ways, which easily translates learning into entertainment.

Fashioning Technology lists all the tools needed to complete a range of projects, such as wire cutters and electrical tape.

It includes simple tutorials on how to do more unconventional tasks such as stripping wires, soldering and measuring voltage.

Finally it includes a thorough list of activities and crafts that is divided into three sections: wearables, objects for the home and interactive toys.

The DIY guide has identified a market of women wanting to explore their creative sides, as the demand for original and handmade artwork increases.

"Knitting's popularity has been growing for several years [as a] response to the pace of life and mass market consumerism," said Sue Green from Craft Victoria.

Leading trend forecaster Faith Popcorn agrees.

"Smooth, shiny and uniform is now equated with crude and cheap, especially when compared with the individuality of hand crafted products."

One thing is for sure - whether it is sewing machines or sewing circuits, Syuzi Pakhchyan’s Fashioning Technology will to bring a modern perspective to a traditional craft that is certain to be inspiring to all.

For Syuzi Pakhchyan's blog, visit the Fashioning Technology website here.

For a comprehensive list of arts and craft workshops available in Perth, click here.