21st Century Fashion Kit

SparkFun Basic RGB

If you’ve ever wanted to make something thermochromatic, electrochromatic, or inflatable with laser cut lace, a custom RGB LED silk flower, and antique conductive thread then check out my new 21st Century Fashion Kit collaboration with sparkfun. Here’s a look at what you can make:

The kit was two years in the making since some of the items were hard to come by. So I am excited about the selection of experimental materials it offers. In the kit you will find:

Inflatable Materials- Inflatables are my favorite thing to send down the runway, because they transform and change shape when the blower is turned on. I like to prototype inflatable shapes by fusing together a certain type of plastic tablecloth with a traditional clothes iron. Included is a tablecloth with a lace pattern, battery, and fan. Instructions for creating inflatables are on the kit website.

Sapphire Blue Thermochromatic Pigment- that can be mixed with nail polish, paint, clay, etc. to make colors that change with varying temperature . I chose a very specific shade of blue (similar to Yves Saint Laurent’s #18 Blue Majorelle nail polish), that when mixed with red to create purple or orange to create taupe, or yellow to create jade, will create shades that are on trend.

Electrochromatic Materials- The MOSFET power controller, conductive thread, and battery you will need to make your thermochromatic design electrochromatic (changes color with electricity). Tutorial is also on the kit page.

RGB LED Silk Flower- handmade by a 4th generation, family owned silk flower manufacturer in the garment district.

Laser Cut Lace Leather Skull- Everyone should have the opportunity to play with something laser cut. I designed the lace with holes sized specifically to fit around 5mm LEDs, because laser cut things are even better when blinky.

Antique Conductive Thread- I love to look through trim supplier warehouses for unused antique/vintage stock. I spend the day digging through piles of boxes. One day I found a box of shiny antique thread from the 1930’s that felt cool to the touch, which made me think that it might be conductive. Sure enough it was, with very low resistance! My jewelry manufacturer tested the thread, and believes that it is gold plated. I find it amazing that something from the 1930’s is perfect for integrating technology with fashion today.

And some violet LEDs, coin cell batteries, and needles…

Available for $84.95 from sparkfun.com

By diana 0
CNN “The Next List”

I am very excited to have an episode on CNN’s “The Next List.” View part 1 above, and part 2 below.

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CNN “The Next List” Sunday 2:30pm ET (Feb 24)

This Sunday Feb. 24, 2013, you can catch me on CNN’s “The Next List” at 2:30pm ET. This episode was a year in the making, we started filming in February 2012 and filmed throughout the year. The producer was very thorough, and I feel like they did a great job documenting my creative process. My take away from the year was that CNN = journalistic integrity. I am really looking forward to seeing how the episode turns out.

Here’s what it looks like to sit in the hot seat while they interview you (I snapped the photo while one of the camera men was changing his memory card).

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Viewing sulfur yellow in a volcano (à la color forecast F/W 2012)

A couple of years ago trend forecasters at Premiere Vision said a highlighter neon yellow would be a big color for Fall/Winter 2012. I’ve been seeing this color for a while at American Apparel which didn’t mean much since they cater to hipsters. But when I walked into the Gap this holiday season and saw neon yellow everywhere I knew that the self-fulfilling trend forecast had come true! How much to I love this type of yellow?

I visited an abandoned sulfur mine situated in the center of a dormant volcano on White Island to view a super concentrated neon yellow, sulfur. Yes, I like to stare at colors and vacation to spots of geological interest.

My photos and your computer screen do not do sulfur yellow justice. Sulfur yellow looks kind of like a yellow highlighter. So if you imagine that you have a crayola paint set, there’s no way that you can mix the colors to get a yellow this vibrant.

Seeing this color in real life is kind of surreal, because it’s so vibrant, it looks unreal.

I’m still waiting for a wearable yellow that is so vibrant it looks unreal. But until then there are some great approximations for sale in stores now… and they don’t smell like rotten eggs.

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Hacking Chanel Ballerina Nail Polish


We had some leftover Retroreflective material from our scarf experiments plus an annual pedicure date with NYC Resistor.



The nail polish works well on its own, but not well with top coat. I guess the top coat interferes with the Retroreflective lenses.

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Ways to wear Retroreflective Scarf

I had a lot of fun styling our new Retroreflective Scarf on our models to show all of the different ways your can wear them. Our style inspiration for RED model Rafael was Clark Kent meets Buddy Holly.


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Farfalle Holiday Sale

It’s almost Thanksgiving, so to honor the seasonal spirit of good eating and shopping we’re having our first ever holiday sale offering a discount on our Farfalle necklaces for a limited time. Brass are $35, enamel start at $50, and silver are $90.

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Click@MoMA Wearable Technology Class (belated post)

Back in February-April I taught a wearable technology class at the Museum of Modern Art’s Click@MoMA program through Eyebeam. We went on private tours through the galleries to view famous works of art and use them as inspiration to create wearable technology.

We started the first day by sewing a giant wearable circuit that connected all of the students in the class. When everyone was connected the circuit buzzed. The photo above is the students cheering after hearing the buzzing of their working circuit.

Next, the students created video dresses.  We discussed about how impressionist painters used color and pattern to convey mood and season. Then the students captured video of colors and patterns in artworks in the MoMA galleries with flip cameras.

The students edited the videos which became the color and pattern of their video dresses.

Back in the MoMA galleries we discussed how shape can influence perception like the dynamic movement they can  add to the human form.

Or how the simple squares of Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie show the rhythm, movement, and lights of Time Square.

Then we created our own shapes to augment the human form using inflatables.

The students created final projects based on our class experiments, and we had a photo shoot with photographer Ricardo Louis, make-up artist Jessica Jade Jacob, hair stylist Sharmeen Azmudah, and model Brooke Kosinski Click Model Agency.

The photos above and final projects were displayed at the class exhibit at MoMA from April- May 2012. Click@MoMA was a 10 class weekly after school program for high school students. See more photos on our class facebook page.

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Making Farfalle with Lost Wax Process

Even though I am not making the Farfalle necklaces start to finish, the Farfalle are made by manufacturers in NYC who are much better at making jewelry than I could hope to be. Here’s a look at one of my manufactures located in the NYC jewelry district, a family business whose skills were passed down from grandfather to father to two sons.

The Farfalle is created using the lost wax process, which means that each piece still receives a lot of individual attention. Every Farfalle will be a little different and have its own character. Above, a Farfalle is born as a wax piece injected into a mold.

After the wax is removed, it is cleaned up and retouched a bit.

The waxes are then made into a tree.

The wax trees are placed in metal cylinder flasks. The flasks are filled with “investment” which is a material similar to the plaster used for a medical cast (like when you break your leg). The large bell jar picture above is lowered over the flasks to create a vacuum while the machine below shakes the flasks to eliminate air bubbles. The flasks are then left in a kiln overnight to allow the investment to harden. Then the wax is removed.

This machine heats brass and pours it into the flask. You can see the brass glowing bright orange.

Then the flask is carefully removed.

And allowed to cool. (The bright orange in the middle is the bottom base of the tree).

After the brass cools, the investment is broken away. You can see how the brass has replaced the wax tree. There’s still a lot of work that goes into cleaning the brass pieces, but that’s a different blog post. Farfalle Bowtie Pasta Necklaces are available in our shop.

By diana 0
Pretty Hacks: Backstage Styling the Makey’s

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

Happy Halloween! I thought today would be the perfect day to post about LED special effects make-up. Here’s a look at work that went on backstage to styling Gillian BenAry, Gareth Branwyn, Jeri Ellsworth, and Matt Richardson with LEDs for Make Magazine’s Makeys award ceremony back at World Maker Faire with make-up artist Jessica Jade Jacob and hair stylist Suki Tsujimoto.

Jeri Ellsworth receives Makey’s Hero award, photograph by Gregory Hayes

When Gareth Branwyn asked me to style the Makey’s I thought it was the perfect opportunity to do some LED make-up experiments. Maker Faire is an outdoor do-it-yourself event with an emphasis on technology. The challenge was to make our looks elegant for an awards ceremony while maintaining the fun informal do-it-yourself feeling. Jessica Jade Jacob, and I have talked about making up LEDs ever since we saw Soomi Park’s LED lashes. In addition to fashion make-up, Jessica also does special effects for zombie movies, so we planned to build the LEDs into prosthetics.

Diana’s desk the day before

We only had 3 hours to do hair and make-up for four people. So we started prepping, sketching, and experimenting the day before.

Sidenote: I really thought we would use copper tape, but wire wound up working best.

Jessica Jade Jacob builds feather lashes

Jeri’s Look: Jessica and I are super into feather lashes, so we thought they would work well with LEDs for Jeri Ellsworth’s look. We bought some lashes as a base from Duane Reade, then picked up feathers from the garment district to build onto the store bought lashes. The feathers made a nice solid platform for the LEDs so we wouldn’t need to adhere them to delicate eye skin.

Suki styles Jeri’s hair and Diana Solders

To keep it light, we soldered a bunch of surface mount LEDs with very thin wire for the lashes. My trick for soldering SMD LEDs to wire is to line them up, tape them into place, add a small bit of solder to each one, then hold the wire against each solder bit and heat it with my soldering iron until it connects. Suki joined us at Maker Faire to style everyone’s hair and help out.

finished LED lashes

Jeri in progress

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

The eyelashes were powered with a coin cell batteries stashed behind Jeri’s ears using wig tape.

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

Matt’s Look: Jessica took me to a “hair shop” in the theater district where we matched photos of Matt’s hair color to a mustache. I call this a hair shop because they basically sold all sorts of hair attachements, ranging from wigs to sideburns. The mustache hair was not rigid enough to support the LEDs so we used stiff wires to maintain the shape and connect the LEDs behind the mustache. Matt kindly shaved his glorious beard that morning so that we would have a smooth surface to adhere the net at the center of the mustache.

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

Gillian’s Look: We were a bit short on time, so we just added some LED’s to a hair piece for Gillian, and did some quick hair styling and make-up.

Gareth’s Look: We were super excited that Gareth sports a bald look because it’s one thing to ask someone to shave their beard and another to ask someone to shave their head for an LED mohawk. We were really short on time so we decided to use LED strips instead of custom building something. In the photo below we were testing for ease of movement and adhesion.

Photograph by Gregory Hayes

We used a two part silicone to adhere the LED strips to Gareth’s head. We started by painting on a protective base coating so that the LED strips would not touch his skin directly. Layers of silicone were painted over the strips and then finished with a flesh colored powder.


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