Prototypes: Forage Storage Pt. 3

Pt. 3 of Forage Storage prototypes is the Sleeve Storage. This design adds in additional panels on a sleeve so that your arms can store additional items. The idea comes from thinking about where added storage can be added to clothing that normally doesn’t have storage and designing it so that it doesn’t interfere with the movement of that area. forage storage 2


For this prototype I first made a single sleeve out of a yellow canvas fabric. The pattern is based off of tracing an existing long sleeve shirt and the edges were completed using a serger to prevent any fraying. I chose to do this over building on top of an existing jacket or making a whole jacket from scratch so  I can just focus on working with just the sleeve. IMG_7113

With the sleeve model, I first used kraft paper to model where the panels can fold over and expand. Using the measurements that I got from the paper models, I used ripstop nylon make the panels and window screen material for the pockets. They are held in place with velcro and held to the sleeve using safety pins.

IMG_7120  IMG_7122IMG_7124

I went with two different designs for the panels, one for the upper arm and one for the lower arm. The lower arm design is attached to the sleeve at the bottom and wraps around the arm. The upper arm design is attached to the sleeve from the top to middle portion so that the panel folds open and only occupies about half of the arm. The lower arm design could potentially store more items, though it is a little tricky to reach around the forearm to release it.

In building these prototypes for forage storage  I have tested working with various materials and concepts for collection of physical artifacts for mushroom hunting. These designs can definitely be applied for other fields and uses, but is primarily designed to allow a person to more effectively collect fungi.

Prototypes: Forage Storage Pt. 2

This post contains prototypes for the Front Pack storage prototype. In the process of making these items, it was interesting to think about the resolution of these prototypes. For example, the sleeve storage (featured in part 3), which could potentially be incorporated into a jacket, is actually just the sleeve because it’s easier to just sew the segment of the clothing, rather making a full blown jacket. But at the same time, making the sleeve gave me more control over the structure and material than using an existing sleeve. In thinking about craft and making, there is a usually a fine balance I try to maintain between having the object refined enough to speak for itself conceptually, but also be straightforward in terms of materiality and maintain the presence of the hand. I am sure I will have to unpack that statement more at some point in my life, but not now!

forage storage

Here is the sketch for the Front Sack. The design allows your to easily store your foraged goods into the front of your body rather than having to reach around to a backpack or have to carry something like a basket or bag in your hands. The Front Sack is made out of two pieces of neoprene sewn together with a netting pouch that enclosed with a zipper. The neoprene pieces also form a smaller slotted pocket at the top of the sack that can be used to store wax bags that are used in forays to separate your collection within a basket or bag. The neoprene part of the bag also has grommets at the top edges so that it can clipped onto a harness via carabiners. This allows you to just pull the front sack on and off as needed at the beginning or end of a foray. The harness itself is actually from my Portable Workspace project back in the summer – it was helpful to have a base to work on in terms of figuring out the initial measurements of the project.


More sketches of the bag to figure out dimensions and how the layers go together.


Since I wanted the bottom of the mesh bag to be larger than the top, I created a deeper box bottom for the lower half so that when the sides of the squares were sewn together, it would have a larger inset. IMG_7011

Here is the pattern I made for the neoprene pieces. I usually write notes on the patterns to make the cutting and sewing the pieces out more smoothly. It’s like the textiles version of carpentry’s motto “Measure twice, cut once”. Well actually it’s the same thing. This is definitely a more rational form of making than just experimenting with materials. Though when making something with the intent that it needs to be worn on the body, it is usually best to measure out a lil bit before you put something together!

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As you can see, the Front Pack can actually store quite a bit of goods. In this case it was nylon fabric that I used for another prototype. But it is workable and potentially functional so that is always good.

Prototypes: Forage Storage Pt. 1

Over the past few days I have started prototyping, starting with Forage Storage – ways to collect physical data (mushrooms, substrates, interesting things) on the body.  Part of this prototype process was also to get an idea of how to combine some of the materials together and building models with some functionality.

One of the prototypes was the Hat Basket – a hat that could also be converted into a basket bag. This would be a helpful device to keep your hands free as you scrounge around in the forest, or can be converted into a carrying device if you realize that you want to collect something but did not carry a bag.

forage storage 1Here are some preliminary drawings that I made to write down some notes and address some design ideas.

I sewed the head part using a cycling cap pattern I found online.  I used ripstop nylon and window screen together which was much easier to sew together than I had expected. IMG_7013

I then safety pinned the head on to a base that I had made using wire with “spokes” going outwards to a larger circle to form a brim. The pointy bits were covered with electrical tape and window screen material was sewn around that piece to cover the brim. Handles are made out of nylon webbing and attached with safety pins so they can be repositioned as necessary, rather than sewing it directly down. IMG_7015

It’s not the most beautiful hat, but it does fit on my head!


When it needs to become a carrying device, the brim can be flipped up and become a basket of sorts for your materials. In this case, I foraged materials in the lab to carry so most of the things are like office supplies. IMG_7043

A top view of me wearing the hat with stored materials. As you can see, it can fit a decent amount of things. IMG_7037

If the hat needs to be carried like a basket, the hat can be removed and inverted so that the materials sink into the head piece. The handles can then be used to hold the bag.   IMG_7044

This prototype was an interesting exploration into materials usage, along with modeling out an inquiry of making a convertible hat.

Mood Board

Part of my methodology in working on my thesis is incorporating aspects of product design, such as the affinity diagram done in the previous post and a mood board, which will is shown in this post. Here it is:


I decided to go for a physical mood board instead of a digital one (like Pinterest, tumblr, or compiling images in an image editing program) mostly because I wanted to include fabric swatches in addition to the images. This is a technique usually done in fashion / costume to communicate colors, textures and materials that will be used in the garment.  Since my thesis will be a series of wearables, this was a good way of organizing some of the different materials I plan on working with. I also thought this would be a good artifact to keep in my work area while building to remind me of the visual / conceptual aesthetic of my project. Even though I constantly find images and references on a daily basis and will organize these in a folder in my computer, it was a good exercise to organize my thoughts at this point.

On the right side, I collaged printouts together that consist of projects, objects, garments, and images that are an inspiration to my project. In putting together this mood board, I was able to lay out images that I have been collecting and arrange them so that it creates an overall feel of the direction that I’m going with as I go ahead with designing and prototyping.


Some of the reoccurring themes in this image include camping/outdoor/military gear (fly fishing waders, vintage bandolier, multitool, etc), DIY electronics (Kobakant e-textile swatches, hot glue potting for waterproof circuits, balloon mapping from Public Laps, modifiable ergonomic gear from the Social Body Lab, etc) and fungi! duh. Also included are a number of projects, both art/design/fabrication projects that relate to my concept such as Mary Mattingly’s Swale, Multispecies Cat’s Cradle by Nasser Mufti, Biomodd by Angelo Vermeulen, Survival Kit for the Ever-Changing Planet by Chiu Chih, a watercolor of people mushroom hunting by Jen Cooney, Convertible Clothes by Moreno Ferrari, Bio-Suit by Dava Newman, New American Sweatshop : Training Module by Amelia Marzec, SolarSinter by Markus Kayser, Hacking the Wild with Hannah Perner-Wilson and Andy Quitmeyer, Urban Armor #7: The Social Escape Dress by Kathleen McDermott and Wildgrid by Krystal Persaud and Hirumi Nanayakkara. There is also a picture of John Cage mushroom hunting. The pictures of fungi and forests are from a nature book that I found in the lab space that I received permission to cut pages from…


On the fabric swatch side are a range of fabrics that I had on hand that I wanted to group together to give an idea of the colors, textures and materiality of the wearables I will make. Of course there will be electronics, plastics, metal components and other materials involved, but this is still a fairly comprehensive overview.

Row 1: Here are the materials listed in rows from top to bottom, left to right:

Row 2: Black/white jersey covered neoprene; turquoise/grey jersey covered neoprene; printed spandex; cotton knit jersey

Row 3: Solid colored canvas, heavyweight natural canvas, undyed color denim

Row 4: All rip-stop nylon in various colors

Row 5: Orange woven safety fabric; neon yellow woven safety fabric; mushroom printed cotton woven fabric

Row 6: Tarp with grommet; plastic sheeting; disposable poncho material

Row 7: Mesh netting; window screen material; 1″ purple nylon strap; 1″ turquoise nylon strap; 1/2″ nylon rope

Ideation and Synthesis!

I recently worked through ideation of various concepts based on a statement (*forthcoming* 🙂 ) on my thesis work.  After my mid-thesis review at the end of last semester, I am focusing on the area of fungi and mycological forays and building wearable technologies that support that endeavor. It was a relief to get the feedback to narrow down to this specific area after mucking around in a lot of other terrains such as beekeeping and birdwatching.

When I first started graduate school I was not a big fan of using sticky notes cause I thought it was rather wasteful and a weird corporate hold that 3M has over design students. But I have gotten quite fond of the tangibility of scribbling on a sticky and being able to arrange it in various groupings that digital methods do not (currently) afford. I wonder if there is a way to make resusable ones with magnets, like the flat flexible ones used for business cards, and dry erase markers to draw on the magnets. hm Anyways,  through a couple of sessions, I generated ~60 thoughts based on observations, research, what is necessary during mycological forays, and what might be a interesting to see. In this process, I did not distinguish between analog and digital tools, it was just an initial brain drain of ideas.


IMG_6922 IMG_6928 IMG_6929Here are all the ideas laid out and some closeups of some of the ideas… I find it helpful (and more fun) to create a small sketch with your idea, especially when you are working towards building an object. I then began affinity diagramming (or is it: I then began to create an affinity diagram) to draw out relationships and reoccurring themes among the ideas.


After a lot of rearranging and sorting, the sticky notes were corralled into 4 themes with one theme (tools + sensors) split into many sub themes around where the sensor or tool would be placed on the body. Although it is hard to have distinct categories and I feel that some of these themes overlap, these categories are useful for me to go further ahead in ideation of technologies and objects to prototype. Sub themes under Wearable Tool and Sensors include: foot-based, face-based, garment-based storage solutions, spore collector hand-based and accessory -based, for things that you might carry in a pocket or in your hand, but not necessarily worn. There is a also another sub-theme “For the novice” in includes ideas that might be useful for a novice fungal forayer just starting out, but might not be necessary once once a basic understanding of field identification has been established. Ideas under this sub-theme included a scarf that had a basic mushroom key printed on it, temporary tattoos of key features to look at for identification and a communication device that allows a mycologist leading the walk to share information while they are in different areas of the forest.  In the above image, Location Based sensing is considered a separate category but is actually included in Tools and Sensors in the final grouping. Location based sensing ideas work to create a model or map of the human fungi relationships during a foray. At first it was separate because it was more focused on conceptual aspects of creating maps rather than an enhancement of a tool.

Other themes include Portable Power;  Data Collection Variables; and Design Parameters. Portable Power includes ideas of ways to generate and store energy for the electronic devices. Data Collection variables includes the different variables that are to be collected by the user during the foray.  Lastly, Design parameters are various criteria of the prototypes and objects. These include flexibility, water and weather proof and easy access to reach tools and storage.


From here I started forming some lists for all the physical and digital data that is being collected based on all the ideas (aside from my paltry listing in the above affinity diagram), the tools that are being used/repurposed, the different types of wearable/portable objects and the variety of materials that are being used, which includes types of textiles along with rigid materials that will be included in the objects. These lists are helpful in that it provides another method of grouping from the ideation before creating prototypes.  My next steps is to create a mood board as a representation of the design aesthetics to create a cohesive body of work as I move forward.

MaxiFab research

MaxiFab was a group project for my fabrication class that seeks to apply rapid prototyping processes to build affordable and accessible menstrual products. One of the outcomes for this project were layered menstrual pads that we not only cut but also fused and assembled within a laser cutter.


Inspired by the “LaserStacker” research by Udayan et al.  in which multiple sheets of acrylic could be selectively fused and welded by defocusing the laser head, we applied this technique to creating layered textiles. Cloth menstrual pads often consist of layers of cotton, flannel and wool fabrics to increase absorption while retaining comfort during wear and ability to be washed for reuse. Fusing these pieces together within the laser cutter would allow the pads to be cut and affixed to the layers. By creating a process that could fuse these various layer, the pads can be cut and affixed, thus assembled, within the laser cutter.

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To fuse the layers together, we used no-sew fusible web, a heat sensitive adhesive used to bond textiles together. A layer of the fusible web was first applied to the back of a rectangular piece of flannel which is then positioned on top of another piece of flannel in the laser cutting bed. We then ran a series of tests to determine what speed / power settings and z-axis height is needed to apply enough heat to fuse the two fabrics together without damaging the top layer. This was done by lowering the laser cutter bed by increments of .25” at different settings until the two fabrics were successfully bound together with minimal damage. For our tests, we ran the laser cutter using the etching mode in order to form shapes rather than just outlines. This would allow the textiles to be fused across a greater surface area therefore increasing the strength of the adhesion.  


Our pad prototype is made by fusing and cutting two pieces of flannel in the laser cutter. We designed a pad with specific areas to be fused to maximize flexibility and hold. In the laser cutter, the bed was lowered to defocus the laser and adhere the two pieces together. An outline was then trimmed around the fused areas using normal cut settings. This operation created an assembled, layered pad within the confines of a laser cutter. We also experimented with creating soft toggles that would eliminate the need of velcro or adhesives to keep the pad in place during use. 


The process of fusing textiles within a laser cutter can allow for customized fabrication of pads in both design and materials, along with providing an alternative method for creating inexpensive but functional pads. Further research would include experimenting with layering and fusing three or more pieces of fabric in variable weights and materials to create a design that would maximize absorption and comfort in wearability. This would also involve usability tests in order to determine if this pad meets the needs protection and ease of use for different users.


Udayan Umapathi, Hsiang-Ting Chen, Stefanie Mueller, Ludwig Wall, Anna Seufert, and Patrick Baudisch. 2015. LaserStacker: Fabricating 3D Objects by Laser Cutting and Welding. In Proceedings of the 28th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software & Technology (UIST ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 575-582. DOI:

Knife Earring


This knife earring was made for a project in my fabrication class. The design for a retractable blade that can be concealed as a fashionable accessory is based on recent national events and my continual concern of personal safety as a woman and person of color.  Also there seems to be potential for functional earrings or ears as storage space for tools/devices (Earables?). Although there are some design issues that need to be resolved, the overall concept can be expressed through the 3D printed prototype (above). img_5878

I made a paper version of the casing in order to figure out the basic design and sizing. The earring hardware is from the jewelry section of an arts and crafts store and the blade is an X-acto #11 blade. This blade was chosen because of its small size and the opening hole on the base that can be used to pivot around an extruded cylinder that is sandwiched between the two casing pieces.


Above is a screenshot of the casing that was designed in 123D Design. It was my first time using this particular 3D modeling program and I think it’s okay. The interface is clear and simple although I couldn’t find some of the features I needed such as snapping to midpoint. I designed the model so that it is held together by an M3x12 bolt and nut. The model was then printed on a Folger Tech RepRap 2020 Prusa i3 which I had assembled for the class.

Laser cut quilting templates

For a side project I’m working on I am doing a little bit of quilting. I’m not a quilter but have done a little bit and it’s fun, though I think I’m either too neurotic/not neurotic enough to be really into it. One thing that is annoying about quilting, or pretty much most craft fields is that there is always one specialized tool or another that you need in order to complete a task (kind of hypocritical for someone developing specialized tools ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ).  When looking at various patterns, many linked to purchasing a quilting template, a cut acrylic piece that is used as a guide for cutting out your pieces.  These can pretty expensive and might not guarantee your size, so I decided to make my own pattern using Adobe Illustrator and laser cut out my own templates.

I wanted to try out Drunkard’s path, a classic quilting pattern.


Each block for this pattern consists of a quarter circle sewn into a square. Various designs can be formed depending on how the blocks are sewn together:

2010_101510-15-10-dpath-ebay  beach-ball-quilt  path

(top to bottom: Tim Latimer, Emily Longbrake, Accuquilt)

Drunkard’s Path was also one of the quilt patterns used to relay messages to runaway slaves in the Underground Railroad. Different quilting patterns were used to display messages, known as the quilt code, to prepare and direct these people for their northern escape. Here are some examples:


(This could be interesting to consider a project tying in the history of the use of these quilt codes and the current refugee crisis in creating messages of solidarity? )

So for this project I started out following this tutorial on making a paper template for Drunkard’s path. Instead of making my template on paper, I followed along using Illustrator and made this template for a 3″ block.


Then you load it into your handy dandy studio laser cutter. img_5805img_5815

Here are the final pieces- I understand that not everybody has easy access to a laser cutter or design programs, but I think it is interesting to think through how to fabricate a thing vs. relying on someone else’s patterns.

To test out my template, I sewed up a test block:img_5807

The fabric pieces are folded to create a center crease that makes it easy to line up the two piecesimg_5808

The right sides of each piece is placed together where the creases meet and also so the two curves are lying tangent to another. img_5809

I started sewing my two pieces together from the creased midpoint. Curves are tricky – definitely a lot of slow sewing and lifting the top piece so it’ll curve.img_5810

A lil sloppy but it works. img_5811

I started from the midpoint again and sewed the other side. img_5812

Here is the final block. It still needs some trimming to make it look cleaner, but cool to see how these pattern comes together. img_5813

For the block on the left, I topstitched the curve so that it lies a bit flatter. Not sure how necessary it is since the whole thing will be quilted, but I like how it looks as well. You can start to see how piecing these blocks together can create various patterns. img_5814


Background Research – Beekeeping

These past few weeks I have been conducting interviews with people involved in various citizen science work in the Pittsburgh area.  I spoke to two members of the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom club on their DNA barcoding program, field identification strategies, how technology impacts citizen science work and other topics surrounding mycology. The conversations are still being transcribed and will be included in a later blog post.  They have been helpful in further understanding and gaining insight on the design space for my projects to build wearable devices to be used in citizen science applications.

In looking at other potential areas to work in, I have started looking at local beekeeping work since this is also a field that brings together both amateurs and experts observing the environment. Like mushrooms, bees can also be an important indicator of environmental effects since they are sensitive to temperature changes and their surrounding habitat for growth and production. Also like mushrooms, they provide a product – usually the honey- which can be an incentive for pursuing beekeeping as a hobby.


Yesterday I spoke to Jet who started beekeeping with his wife a few years ago as a side project. I visited their hives behind their house in Forest Hills and spoke to Jet about tools and equipment, the community support and what he has learned over the years doing beekeeping. They currently have three hives (about 40,000 – 60,000 per hive) and are hoping to have more

The following images are some beekeeping garments. These suits and garments are usually white because they are non-threatening to bees. They have been evolved to become defensive to large moving dark objects (such as bears and raccoons) so by wearing white, (hopefully) you are more likely to approach the hive without getting stung.


These jackets have a veil that can be zipped into the collar area to prevent bees from flying in. This jacket is more for spring/fall weather and is made out of a thicker woven cotton fabric. Elastic is also at the end of the sleeves and the bottom. Some beekeepers also tape/tie their pants legs to prevent any bees from flying up their pants…


The veil – designed to prevent bees from flying into your face while also allowing you to see! It is a hat with a rigid brim with a screen that goes around the face area. For this veil, there is also a toggle pull at the bottom so you can tighten it if need beeeeee.


An interesting feature of the jacket were these elastic loops at the end of the sleeves that you can put around you finger to make sure that the sleeves stay down. If you are wearing gloves, they can be pulled around the over the fingers.


Here is the summer jacket which is made out of a more mesh-like ventilated material.  Although the materials for these equipment have changed over time (using synthetic materials, updated zippers and hardware), the overall design hasn’t changed too much. In general, the goal for the equipment hasn’t really changed – how to protect yourself from bees as your enter their hive!


**Entering the hive**  Bees will defend the entrance of their hives. We watched a few bees defend from robbing (when other bees try to enter to take the honey). Around the hive you will also see dead bees, since bees will push out ill, dying and dead bees.




On the day I went to visit the hives, it was fairly warm so we were able to check on the syrup levels for the hives. Since beekeepers extract the honey from the hives, a syrup is placed on the top level of the hive to provide food for the bees. In the winter time, a fondant is used in its place so that it doesn’t freeze.  One of the main concerns that beekeepers have over the winter is making sure their hive survives.


It was interesting to talk to Jet about the beekeeping network and community. Like a lot of other niche subjects, beekeeping has a buzzing online network. There is a local mailing list for beekeepers in the southwestern PA region and they will keep each other posted with hive observations, swarms and other updates. There are also other mailing lists and forums depending on your hive setup and specific interests in beekeeping. Burghs Bees is a local group that provides support and mentorship for beekeepers, along with maintaining urban apiaries (like a community garden but with hives instead of plots).


In the realm of beekeeping and new technologies, open source sensors are being developed to monitor hives. Open Source Beehives is one example of these projects where they provide various source files for hive designs and sensor kits to detect bee hive health.  One challenge of developing electronics and sensors for hives is that bees will cover and seal any foreign objects with propolis, a sticky combination of sap, bee discharge and beeswax. Jet mentioned a project in which sensors were installed within the hive only to realize that the bees had completely covered the sensors with propolis and rendered it useless. Other projects such detecting the sound emerging from the hives using signal processing are also in the works.

However, I was really intrigued by the very lo-fi tools that Jet and other beekeepers use for hive maintenance. Below are some pest management tools for detecting the amount of mites in the hive:


This device is used to count if how many mites are present within a population of bees. One end of the jar is opened and a group of about 100 bees are captured and trapped in one end.  Alcohol is then poured over the bees from the other end to kill them, the jar is screwed back on and when it drains through the mesh in the center, you’ll have dead bees on one side and on the bottom you may see mites floating in the alcohol. Depending on how many mites you see will determine if you need to do some mite management.


Another device used for determining if treatment needs to be done for mites is this chart printed on a corrugated plastic material. This chart is placed under the hive for a few days. If there are mites that drop down on the chart, you can determine what specific areas of the hive needs to be treated, rather than having to do the whole thing.  Bee data viz! img_5645 img_5647

Again, this meeting was really informative in terms of learning about the tools, equipment, challenges and communities in beekeeping.  This would be an interesting area to work in regards to Field Computing.

Prototype: Fungi Specimen Collector

In going out on forays with the mushroom club, I wanted to explore the idea of building a wearable device that can be used to collect fungal specimen.


This past weekend I went to a walk in Hartwood Acres to look for various small brown mushrooms and molds. Here is an inventory breakdown of what I usually bring on one of these walks.

  • Basket:
    • egg carton – to collect small specimen
    • wax paper bags
    • foldable knife
    • little shovel (actually I don’t have one, but I should get one)
    • field guide
    • camera
    • compass/whistle
    • rain coat (depending on weather)
    • water bottle
    • snack

Using a basket is nice since everything is within easy reach, it’s light and has a rigid structure so you can put a fleshy soft thing like a mushroom and it will still kind of support it. Other types of bags are fine, including mesh bags or paper brown bags, but obviously not as cool as the basket. Fun fact about this particular basket – this was the basket my parents got when they went apple picking for the first time ever when they moved to New York City from Taipei in the late 80’s. So the sentimental value of this particular basket for me is very high.

With initial sketches, I wanted to incorporate a form of the geographical annotation tool that I had in the water quality monitoring suit that I had sketched out in Iowa. This would allow the user to “make a note” of where a certain sample was collected over the course of their walk. I am also interested in including other sensors such as soil probes and thermometers that can obtain additional information about a location when collecting a specimen.


For design ideas and inspiration, I have been looking at a variety of vests used for fly fishing. These vests are used for outdoor purposes and designed for easy access while the the users’ hands are occupied with fishing activities(?). Here is a selection of vests that I found interesting in terms of material usage or construction methods.

geartest_vest allen_fishingvest filson_foulweathervest clearcreek_volgavest filson_fishingvest