Interactive, electronic Textiles from Maggie Orth

Maggie Orth is an artist, technologist, entrepreneur who creates and invents interactive and electronic textiles. She is considered a pioneer in the emerging field of electronic textiles, interactive fashions, wearable computing, and interface design.

moving_target.jpgMaggie uses electronic textiles to create programmable color change textile art works, soft and fuzzy textile sensors and light artworks, electronic fashions and electronic textile design products. She is also Founder and CEO of International Fashion Machines which is selling the POM POM Light Dimmer we have posted about some time ago.

Her latest works make use of thermochromic ink. This type of ink changes color when the surrounding temperature changes. In the ‘off’ stage it has one color and in the ‘on’, heated stage another color.

Unlike light emitting displays, color-change textiles based on thermochromic ink do not light up. We can compare it with a change of the textile color – see our ‘vision’ about an evening dress posted a couple of days ago or one of the models from Angel Chang’s autumn 2007 collection that uses thermochromic ink but without electronic involved.

Maggie Orth is using thermochromic ink to print or paint on woven conductive yarns using double weave and two warps. The first warp supports the double weave pattern, the second warp which runs along the selvages of the fabric, contains super conductive yarns that act as the ‘bus’ in the woven circuit. Resistive yarns are then woven in the weft. The plain weave structure in the selvage electrically connects the resistive yarns to the more conductive yarns.

Mixing thermochromic inks is like mixing normal paint. First the ‘on’ color is mixed (for example yellow), then thermochromic inks are added (for example blue) and the ‘off’ color is created (in this example it would be green). The selvages of the textile are then cut to create individual textile pixels.

These pixels are connected to the control electronics which sends current to different parts of the textile, causing the restive yarns to heat up and the fabric to change color.

To get you an idea how it works, check out the video of her work called ‘Moving Target’ below:

This installation creates a visually appealing, sensual atmosphere. The transformation from one color to another (and back again when the electricity is switched off) gives the impression of an animated painting. This concept explores how time can change traditionally static media, like painting and textiles.

More about Maggie Orth’s art projects can be fond by Make sure you visit this site, it’s full of information about Maggie’s projects.


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