16-376 Spring 2022 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022 Kinetic Fabrics Sat, 07 May 2022 23:31:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.9 Final Project | Grace and Michelle https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7180/final-project-grace-and-michelle/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7180/final-project-grace-and-michelle/#respond Fri, 06 May 2022 16:33:13 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7180 Concept

We drew inspiration from the sundew, a carnivorous plant. We wanted to create a growing and shrinking effect reminiscent of a sundew curling up around its prey.

A sundew curling up

What we created was Tube-a Two, a dynamic sculpture consisting of two red fabric tubes growing out of a wooden box. After they reach their full height, strings inside the tubes are pulled, causing them to collapse and curl up onto themselves, only to then regrow to their original height.

The piece consists of a wooden box with two red tubes emerging from the top. The wooden box houses an inflatables fan along with two PVC pipes that support the red tubes. A string runs through the center of each of the tubes down through and out the side of the box.

Cross sectional diagram of the final design


We were happy with the overall effect that we were able to achieve with our piece. We wanted our piece to undergo dramatic changes during our performance and we successfully able to achieve that. We were able to create different types of motion with our tubes including a slow initial growth phase, a dramatic collapse when the strings were pulled, and a tight helical spiral when the strings were pulled further.

Tube-a Two after growth
Tube-a Two with one tube extended and one curled

We worked with Carmyn on the euphonium to add music to our performance. They were able to play in accordance to the movement of the tubes to amplify the effect of our piece.

Dress rehearsal with Carmyn ft large inflatable eyeball


When we first started this project, we knew that we wanted a growing and shrinking plant mechanism, but we were not completely sure how to create the type of motion that we wanted. We experimented with several different methods involving heat sealed pouches, but we were unable to get the dramatic level of growth that we wanted.

Elastic sewn into a heat sealed pouch
Plastic and rubber band structure wrapped around a heat sealed pouch

Olivia came up with the idea of putting a string inside of a fabric tube on top of an inflatables fan and pulling and releasing the string to create the growth effect.

One problem that we ran into is that original strings got caught in the friction of the tube and broke, so we replaced them with lower friction fishing string.

Original string getting caught in the tube

The largest challenge that we faced during this project was creating a stable structure to support the tubes. We tried to balance what would provide enough structural support to withstand the forces of the strings being pulled with the materials that we had available.

Proof of concept prototype with PVC pipes taped onto fan

Garth and Olivia helped us come up with possible box structures to hold the PVC pipes in place and support the tubes during the growing and shrinking phases. We tried using a cardboard box, but it was not very stable in holding the pipes in place over the fan, especially when the strings were pulled.

Cardboard box prototype

We then tried a plastic storage box and a cardboard manifold, but although functional, was not the most durable.

Plastic box prototype

We decided that it would be best to create a box out of wood to house the fan and support the pipes. A huge thank you to Olivia for designing and spending 4 hours in the library with me building the box from scratch.

Final box

We also had problems with not enough air going into the tubes to fully inflate them. To solve this issue, we created a pants-shaped manifold that attached to the top of the fan and connected to the base of the tubes to direct the air into the tubes. However, despite the addition of the manifold, the tubes struggled to stand up again on their own after being collapsed. We incorporated reaching up to stabilize the tubes as part of the performance, which was acceptable, but was not part of our original plan.

Since the top of the box was not removable, fully assembling the piece proved to be a challenge in itself. The holes in the manifold were not much larger than the PVC pipes, and it was a dexterity challenge to get the manifold around the pipes inside of the box.

Related Works

Stanford vine robots: https://www.vinerobots.org/

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7180/final-project-grace-and-michelle/feed/ 0
Amorphous Breathing – Jennifer+Isabel https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7122/amorphous-breathing-jenniferisabel/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7122/amorphous-breathing-jenniferisabel/#respond Fri, 06 May 2022 16:06:38 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7122 Final Statement of Concept

Amorphous Breathing is a kinetic wearable that inflates and deflates as the euphonium player plays the music. The cape-like garment is a weaving of two inflated tubes that are driven by four fans. With the constant change in the speed of the fans, the wearable creates a breathing motion, having a life of its own and slowly engulfing the player.


We experimented with different ways to weave the form in a consistent manner. Prototyping with three tubes, we aimed to make a mountaining effect by braiding the tubes. 

With the process of tailoring the piece with our musician Kyle, we decided to weave a wearable with two tubes. The iterations went through different forms of exploration with the consisting language of weaving. 

To resolve the limited airflow caused by fabric overlapping, we tested out ways to alter the tubes’ curving angle by adding darts. We put darts at each overlapping point and turning point. We further hand-stitched rows of weaving tubes to hold them together. 

We initially attached two fans to the two tubes but we ended up doubling the number of fans to ensure a more effective way of inflating. Choreographing the movement of the piece, we adapted Adafruit to write a 4-minute program with varieties of breathing patterns.  

After stitching all the parts together, we incorporated lighting to work with the semi-transparent fabric. The lighting creates a speckle of blue on the piece, emphasizing the pneumatic rise and fall of tubes. 


We are really happy with our approach to using a textile construction technique with an unconventional material as we are both interested in garment-making processes. We enjoyed collaborating with each other and incorporating our interests and love for textile into our project. The translation of materials while keeping the unique woven form was unique and successful.

Seeing it in the venue with all the other inflatables, animations, and people around was also such a gratifying experience, too. We were successful at creating a harmonious performance with the movement, the lighting, and the music. While the movement was subtle, the smooth undulating form that rises and falls with the music really helped building up the eerie ambiance that we planned. 

Failures/What we would do differently

During our process, we struggled a lot with the form, going back and forth between braiding and weaving. When we finally decided to go with the weaving, our main problem was solving the air to flow constantly without the tubes restricting each other. Our solution was to make darts in every intersection, this was not the most precise way. We still faced trouble when Kyle wore our wearable as his shoulders and the instrument was creating pressure on the tubes. This made the movement even more subtle. If we could do this project again, we would use Rhino to craft the curved forms first, which could solve both the form problem and the airflow problem. 

Show Day Images

Citations of Related Work

Edra “Boa” Sofa by Campana Brothers (2002)

The Art of Dreams: Remember Your Dreams by Cyril Lancelin at The Promontory (2022)

Pnit by Pneuhaus (2019)

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7122/amorphous-breathing-jenniferisabel/feed/ 0
Final Documentation – Yumeng and Sophia https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7115/final-documentation-yumeng-and-sophia/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7115/final-documentation-yumeng-and-sophia/#respond Fri, 06 May 2022 03:16:49 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7115


The Eye Cape incorporates both three dimensional eyes that pop out and more two dimensional eyes that are ironed onto the cape. The eyes that pop out were made from plastic pouches and foam. We used a small round container to hold the pouch and foam so that it stays in place during the performance. These eyes are also wired to each other using tubes and are coded to pop in and out. These eyes are also black and white. The cape also has colorful eyes ironed onto it. Lastly, we wanted Hunter (our tuba player) to feel comfortable while playing the tuba and thus made him a vest and cape so that it does not distract him while he plays while allowing us to hide the bulky containers on the bottom of it.

Statement of Concept

Knowing the theme of phantasmagoria, we would like to make a scary piece. We thought of eyeballs because they are associated with intimacy for being the vital organ that gives us the most information, but also fear of being watched as symbols of surveillance. The eyeballs were supposed to pop to scare people, but due to the slow inflation, the final effect was more like a mesmerizing show where they emerge and submerge slowly. 

After coming up with the pouch-in-bowl design, we realized that each of the bulky eyeballs took up a lot of space under the surface, so a wearable piece needed to be wide and loose enough to accommodate them. A cape was ideal because it had more space, was visible, and large enough to layout multiple eyes, which we finally have 8. 

The colored felt eyes were added to decorate the cape and also as a form of distraction from the black-and-white design of the eyeballs. We kept the vest mostly white to keep the audience focused on the cape. However, the colorful eyes were still distracting so we added a black felt ring around each of the eyeballs, and put a small piece of sequin fabric on the pupil as well. This created a nice balance of the magical, disorienting colored yet flat eyes, and the black and white popping eyeballs. 

The music we asked our tuba player to play was not any particular piece, but a sinuous melody of a minor key that aroused feelings of uneasiness. 

We think the title, Hypnotic Pneumatic Circus, fits our project well. 

Making the Eyeballs


The pouch is made with two round air pouches stack on top of each other with an opening that connects them.

Initially there were two fittings through the bottom of the pouch, one input and one output, but it turned out that sucking air through the pouch causes the bag to collapse on the fitting, preventing more air to be sucked out from subsequent pouches.

The solution is to use T-connectors and only one fitting.


We used plastic bowls from soup that comes with boxed lunch to hold the pouches. The bottom of the bow is cut, leaving a rim about 1cm wide.

Some of them are then taped to make the edges smoother.

A hole was punctured in the lid of the bowl, and the fitting/tubing goes through the hole.

Foam ball

We carved foam balls to the size that made the top of the ball as high as the rim of the bowl, so that they would not be caught inside the bowl.

One assembled eye

Motor pump

The pumps are programmed such that they inflate the pouches to 70% of the maximum volume, measured by a single pump in seconds. There were three pairs of pumps, one for inflation and one for deflation. Each pair is chained to 2, 3, 3 pouches, respectively.

Final eyeball set in Studio B

Making the Vest

We always knew we wanted to make a cape. At first, we wanted to tie the cape to the tuba player’s neck area but we quickly realized that it would be uncomfortable and dangerous. We then had the idea to make a vest and sew the cape to the vest. The vest and cape were made entirely out of canvas material and had ironed on felt added to it.

To make the vest, we took measurements of Hunter and used them to make a vest pattern. We then cut the canvas pieces using the pattern.

We then added a collar and a zipper, and we finished off the ends.

After sewing together the vest and cape, we tried it on to see where to put the placement of the eyeballs that would come out of the cape.

We then cut holes into the cape and took the cake and vest a part to add the felt eyes.

After ironing on the felt eyes, and sewing the vest and cape back together, we added the black rings around the eyeballs that popped out so that they would stand out more from the colorful felt eyes. 

Lastly, we decided to add some felt eyes to the back of the vest.

Final Product


The bowls of eyeballs are attached to the cape via Velcro stickers.

Successes and Failures


Overall the performance was a success. During the event, a lot of people enjoyed seeing the eyes on the cape and the eyeballs that popped outwards. We were able to accurately time and take advantage of how long it took the pouches to inflate and deflate. This was important as it allowed us to better control how much air was going into the pouches to ensure they don’t pop. Although we prepared extra pouches and supplies in case the original ones break during testing, we did not end up using them. 

The iron-on eyes were also a success. We wanted the cape to be filled with eyes and so we used the iron on material to make colorful eyes. At first, we were worried that the eyes might peel off. We were also worried that it would look weird after adding the felt eyes. But overall, the material worked well and the contrast between the felt eyes and the foam eyes worked well on the canvas cape material.


We had two key failures. We originally wanted the eyes to be slightly scary and more noticeable. However, because we also wanted to chain three eyes to each other, it slowed down the movement of each eye ball. This caused the effect to be less noticeable. Another failure was that one of the black rings that was around an eyeball did not stick well during the performance. Unlike the iron-on felt material, the fabric used to make the black rings had a peel-off sticky side that allowed it to stick onto the cape. However, because we had to remove the ring multiple times to ensure the hole for the eyes were big enough, it was not really sticky anymore towards the end. We tried to prevent them from falling off by sewing the rings to the cape but one of the rings still came off a little during the performance. 

Related Works


Eyestalkers is a public installation piece by FRONT404, a Dutch duo of artists consisting of Thomas voor ‘t Hekke and Bas van Oerle. It is a forest of eyes on red sticks that turn and look at passers-by from a shop window. 


I found this project similar to our original idea of bringing the paranoia to people about being watched, and it actually realized the effect of looking at people, which our slow pneumatic approach wouldn’t be able to do.

Resin Monster Eyes


We wanted to add fake eyes onto the cape and looked for inspiration of how to design them. This is one of the websites we visited for inspiration on felt eyes.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7115/final-documentation-yumeng-and-sophia/feed/ 0
DECAY – Ethan, Karen, and Jina https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7086/decay-ethan-karen-and-jina/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7086/decay-ethan-karen-and-jina/#respond Fri, 06 May 2022 02:11:23 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7086

DECAY is a set of performative wearable horns to develop this mystical creature. The horns are the main way of communicating as it moves up and down. We used muslin and tassels to enhance the experience and really explore this idea and character of nature through this costume.

Our horns are customized to move based on the performer’s movement. The horns integrates the data from the performer’s head to activate the movement. When the user leans their head to the left, then the right horns will trigger and start to move up and down. Vice versa, when the head is tilted to the right, then the left ears move. In cases, where the performer twists their head quickly, side to side, then both ears will inflate slowly. When the user tilts forward, the ears will quickly inflate. Lastly, when the user tilts back, then both ears will slowly pulse.

Here is a sketch made to build our head base.

As we moved on to using the helmet, we realized that it was difficult to mount and so we started to fabricate a based that would help stabilize the mechanism. We laser cut the base and had a lever like experience.

Testing of both ears


This link above shows a jittering affect with the left ear!


The link above shows another version of the littering affect with the horns! We then realized that we wanted a more natural/subtle movement more like breathing to emphasize the metaphor to nature. Moving forward, once we got the movement of the horns working, we started to fabricate and add more details with tassels and yarn. To enhance the experience, we added a large back piece, scarf, wrist and leg bands.

This was our sketch for our overall costume.

All of the performer’s actions influence the movement of the horns to stand as a metaphor to how our behavior impacts the world. The intent of this wearable is not only provide conversations about the issues that we currently face with the environment but to also allow for a space to reflect.

We appreciate Johnathan so much for all of his help!!

For our performance, we weren’t expecting that many people to show up which affected the way that we filmed. Looking back, we wish that there was more space for Johnathan to move around comfortably, but overall the performance was a success.

A snippet of our performance.

In regards to our process, our team was able to see various successes and failures. Starting off with aspects that worked to our advantage, we were initially concerned about the use of a hard material (helmet) mixed with the soft fabrication, but to our surprise, the use of helmet made our design and mechanism much more smooth.

Some things that we struggled with was balancing more “accessories” and tassels to the design without affecting the horns movement. In addition, it was challenging to make the layout of our circuit to be clean in the sense that we can easily take things out but also won’t fall out.

We were inspired by traditional outfits and spines so we looked into tassels and muslin. If we were to continue this project, we would want to stitch yarn on the back for the title of the piece.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7086/decay-ethan-karen-and-jina/feed/ 0
Final Project Update https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7106/final-project-update/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7106/final-project-update/#respond Thu, 05 May 2022 03:22:01 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7106 By: Dani, Natalia, and Carolyn

Final Performance

Final Kinematic Sculpture Performance

Overall, watching Colby perform and a crowd of people enjoying the performance was an amazing and fulfilling closure to this month-long project. It was so exciting to see the kinematic sculpture that we had worked so long and hard on finally work. Watching people get excited over the inflatable popping out of the tuba was very amusing. It was especially funny to hear people speculating how it was powered. A few of us heard people commenting about how it was “powered by the tuba player”. Apart from enjoying people’s comments and the performance, overall we were just happy that we were able to get the main effect we originally wanted. Although the project shifted themes several times, in each iteration of the project we consistently wanted a motion that was a slow rising and falling and possibly opening like a blooming flower (which was the very first idea). I believe that with the mushroom-shaped stacked inflatable slowly opening up from inside the tuba we were finally able to achieve this motion. In the end, we decided to enhance this motion using the flower garlands. They also made the inflatable more visually appealing and flower-themed. We are all very proud of our final kinetic sculpture!

Apart from enjoying the performance, there were a few things that, if we were to do this again, we would probably change. On the very first iteration of our performance, we encountered some technical difficulties. Although some of these involved the playground not starting on time, the rest were due to the sculpture getting caught on itself. Although we can’t say exactly what happened with the code during the first performance, as it was working during rehearsals and worked during the second performance, the sculpture getting tangled was mainly due to how we packed it inside of the mute. If we were to do this performance again, we would have packed the inflatable less tightly and made sure that the garlands weren’t tangled. Another thing that we could have done was to create a net around the top of the sculpture that would prevent it from spilling out before it started so that it did not need to be packed into the mute so tightly. However, despite this, we believe that our kinematic piece worked really well!

Practice Session During Tech Rehearsal

It was during the final tech practice session where we heard our tuba player’s piece for the first full run and used that as a guideline for timing the breathing of the inflatable itself. In the video above, Dani is manually controlling the swells of the costume fan inflation, to see what effect this would give in a final performance. After this Carolyn took the recorded video of the song and timed the rising and falling motions of the sculpture with the music to enhance its effect.

Design and Creation Process

Inserting our homemade mute into the tuba, we noticed that the tuba’s aperture provided extra support for the inflatable to grow vertically. Some thought was given to how the tuba player might move the structure itself, such as swaying the tuba back and forth as he played. However, we decided to allow the piece to breathe itself, and let it fall into its natural resting state. However, to provide additional support to the piece we decided it was best to anchor the inflatable part of the piece to the mute. This allowed us to achieve a more dramatic rising and falling motion that we were looking for. Below is an image of how the mute looked in the tuba withought the inflatable.

After this first iteration of our project, we also decided that it would be best to drill some holes at the bottom of the mute. This was to allow the costume fan to get air and reduce some of the back pressure that Colby felt when playing with our homemade mute.

First experimentation with falling strand of ‘petals’

In the first iteration of attaching pleated strings of polyester, we explored different materials to have cascading out of the inflatable structure. The weight of certain materials, such as the felt shown in the video, had a noticeable effect on the balance of the structure. Building off our initial prototypes, we decided to move forward with the polyester pleats, as they provided a lightweight and airy appearance without drastically pulling down the inflatable. Included below are some images of us creating and dying the petals we used in the final version of our kinematic sculpture.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7106/final-project-update/feed/ 0
Project Update-Jennifer, Isabel https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7075/project-update-jennifer-isabel/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7075/project-update-jennifer-isabel/#respond Sun, 24 Apr 2022 17:58:52 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7075 progress blog post including video of final piece and a brief statement of unresolved questions and proposed rehearsal/testing strategy

After making our tubes even longer, we made the weaving again, marked all the places that needed darts, and sewn all the darts. On Tuesday, we had the Euphonium player try it on and started sewing the intersection of the tubes to secure the weaving. We also talked about the music with the player and going to choreograph the fan based on the tempo that we discussed.

Remaining questions

  1. How to secure the tubes to the player’s body and where to place the fans/circuits
  2. lighting
  3. music-> improvised or sheet music?

After we are done with making the final weaving and the programming, we will meet with the player and do an independent rehearsal, where we tailor the weaving, adjust the speed of the fan, etc.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7075/project-update-jennifer-isabel/feed/ 0
Project Update – Helmet https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7011/project-update-helmet/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7011/project-update-helmet/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2022 14:29:39 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7011 Currently, our team has been able to figure out how to safely secure our interactive “horns” on to a helmet. This ideation involved looking at various structures and materials to see what would work best. Originally, we used rubber bands to tie them down but later laser cut a mechanism frame so that it is more stable.

Moving forward, we decided that we wanted our musician to have a costume that has lots of tassels and cuts. We also are working on designing tassels for the horns on the helmet as we don’t want to show its original form.

Below are some videos where we tested the motion of the horns with a hand pump and with motors. Both horns move at the same time in the last video, but there are on separate motors and can move independently.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7011/project-update-helmet/feed/ 0
Final Project Progress April 19| Grace and Michelle https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7038/final-project-progress-april-19-grace-and-michelle/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7038/final-project-progress-april-19-grace-and-michelle/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2022 20:48:22 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7038 We continued creating and testing the tube and string mechanism. We found that especially on larger tubes, the the string being was being pinched by the fabric, causing it to break. To remedy this, we switched to a lower friction fishing string.

We also experimented with different ways of interacting with the mechanism with Garth and Olivia, such as a slow growth from inside the tube, a slight reinversion during the growth process, a structural collapse of the inflated tube, and a spiral contraction of the tube.

To create a structure that stands on its own, we used a cardboard box to house the fan and hold the tubes in place. Although this worked decently well, the tubes do not always stay completely upright when the strings are pulled and would need some additional structure.

When the brass players came to class today, I experimented with Carmyn to create a trombone tube duet effect.

We also came up with a game plan for the creating the final structure but were not able to fully execute it yet.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7038/final-project-progress-april-19-grace-and-michelle/feed/ 0
Final Project Progress (Dani, Natalia, + Carolyn) https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7046/final-project-progress-dani-natalia-carolyn/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7046/final-project-progress-dani-natalia-carolyn/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2022 18:01:43 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7046 In the past two weeks, we have shifted gears from pneumatic pumps to costume fans! Using inflatable nylon material, we discovered a vast difference in dynamic movements from the costume fans.

Our base structure is a tiered stack of two prisms that rise off one another (see video below). The base shape was designed to fit and be supported within the tuba’s aperature.

Still inspired by a more graceful and organic effect, we are exploring a slower, more gradual effect of petal strings spilling out from the tuba. Having iterated on many different forms of these strands, we decided to go with a light polyester material to reduce the amount of weight on the inflatable.

Currently, we are using the dyeing techniques we learned in class to create a finished look for the performance.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7046/final-project-progress-dani-natalia-carolyn/feed/ 0
Progress Report 4/19 Yumeng, Sophia https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7016/progress-report-4-19-yumeng-sophia/ https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7016/progress-report-4-19-yumeng-sophia/#respond Tue, 19 Apr 2022 15:36:38 +0000 https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/?p=7016 Performance:

Prototyping documentation for eyes

Vest documentation

Unresolved questions

  • The daisy chained pouches easily cover the outlet tubing when deflating, preventing the next pouch to deflate at measured time. Therefore , it would be better to have a T-shaped connecters that is rigid, so it won’t collapse onto itself.
  • Multiple motor running reduces the overall speed of inflation
  • The AC adapter cord is too short and it limits movements


We need to choreograph the movement with the performer.

https://courses.ideate.cmu.edu/16-376/s2022/7016/progress-report-4-19-yumeng-sophia/feed/ 0