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3. Circular Open Source Fashion

Living 9 hour in the future - my first day of school Not even 24 hours in Spain yet

This week I landed in Bilbao and truly began my Fabricademy journey. Much of my documentation and process this week represents an adjustment to my environment many times searching for patterns of behaviour, architecture, and correspondence in my new city to make my way through the week. You will see this reflected in my process below.

Processing the Process

I'm jumping in from the middle a little so I'd like to go backwards before we go forward - this is a Mercury Retrograde after all. Lets go back to basics with a little refresh on design thinking. I've stuck with the most basic of approaches called the double diamond which takes you through 4 main phases:

1. Discover
2. Define
3. Develop
4. Dear lord, please let me deliver

Dan Nessler has made a much more robust version of these 4 steps which you'll see depicted below. Illustrated is an iterative process of going out; gathering insights and information and then going back in again and determining how you'll actually move forward. I like going out way more than going in (Unless we're talking woo, then I'm all about going in) Dan Nessler's re-imagined double diamond Dan Nessler's Revamped Double Diamond

A very familiar design approach can be viewed with Standord's d.School, calling people to empathise in order to design from a more user centered perspective and test the final result in order to confirm a designs effectiveness. This is problematic from a equity perspective and from the perspective of sustainability. Empathy calls us to feel of the other, however, those of us coming from a privaledged background can design within our unconscious bias, while well intentioned. While testing is a good idea after creating a design, it does not confirm that a design is needed in the world, or that indeed it will be culturally successful. d.School design thinking d.School's model for design thinking

Enter Terresa Moses, a designer and educator that has shifted steps within the d.School framework to support more anti-oppressive and well concidered design. Terresa's model asks us as a designer to consider context, which may include empathy, however suggests a more intersectional approach to initial research activities. Teresa's model also ends in Impact calling designers not just to prove that they did what they said they were going to do, but instead describe a designs impact socially, environmentally etc. Terresa Moses' design reseach process Terresa Moses' design research process



In my digital review of possiblity I was drawn, as always to the ocean and its coral structure and ambiguous wave forms. Tesselation of paper folded forms made me believe that simplifying my search would serve me in our short time available.

Tesselated paper forms Tesselated paper forms

Ilan Garbibi Process Origami works by Ilan Garibi

I will confess that the aesthetic of modular tesselated fashions were not very appealing to me however I was inspired by Fabricademy graduates:

Eduardo Loreto The depth and richness with which he persued his forms was humbling

By Less Plus investigated the aquatic, kelp, my favorite. I was impressed by her ability to create in 3 dimensions and use organic ocean inspired forms which are forever evocative to me.

Personally I struggle with zero-cut-waste fashion unless it uses re-used material - it's simply creating more waste with a marginal reduction in impact often time requireing more fabric usage. I've been working with material re-use and creating a stronger personal narrative as a method to support sustainable practices.

I was thrifting one day and found a hand knit cardigan with a small hand-stitched tag on the inside which read "Made for my special little girl." Everytime I felt like garbage I'd make myself something warm, put on the cardigan and chill. Prior to my departure I made a "Special little girl" jacket for a friend made of an old blanket using an_erin's pattern. Creating objects with a rich personal narrative out of existing material for me speaks to a future in sustainable fashion that I'm curious about. Blanket Jacket "My special little girl", Jacket by me, pattern by an_erin's


My tendancy is toward complication and therefore I did my best to start simple in my understanding of tesselation; collecting basic patterns within my new environment. I went home and sketched these in order to wrap my head around the city and the assignment. This was my way of starting to understand my own context, through form aesthetic and simple navigation. Patterns of Bilbao, feets and streets

Betiana, led us in a hands on felt making session using the local wool from the Basque region which is considered a waste material given it's rough texture and hair like structure. Mixed with coloured roaving I focused my experimentation on form generation playing in 3D.

Felting Process In order to felt we went through the following steps:

1. Stretch a thin layer of roving or combed wool in on direction over a textured matt. 
2. Sprinkle soapy water across then grate soap ontop
3. Stetch a think layer of roving in the other direction then roll up the mat and agitate the fiber back and forth 
4. Repeat the process adding elements to create texture, colour and form

Resulting Prototypes I used balls of bubble wrap and metal tubes as forms to felt around playing with different methods of "tricky tricky" in order to work around these obects

We were fortunate to meet with local textile artist Soledad Santisteban who toured our group through her explorations with the local wool from the region which is considered a waste material given its rough texture and more hair like structure. Soledad walked us through her processes of creating form using molds such as the bucket below; her work emphasizes the quality of the hair and I loved that aesthetic.

Soledad is also experiments in felting with other matierals. Velvet, given its stretchy nature created a brain like form with fragments of felt poking through; silk was used as a canvas for more geometric applications of the felt and molds were used to create almost reptilian knobs. Studio Tour with Soledad Santisteban Studio and work of Soledad Santisteban


In the final hours of the day I began prototyping in paper, playing with grids and wave forms to see how I might map out a tesselation. Wave form generation

I mapped out different forms of attachment that I could imagine and cut and sculpted paper in order to learn through my hands. Attchment mechanisms

After getting a little lost in form I started sketching the environmental simple geometries I'd captured in my short time in Bilbao.

Bilbao Pattern Sketches Bilbao Pattern Sketches

Classmates told me a little bit about the local history and considered whether this form might be inspired by local artist Eduardo Chillida.

Taking things a step further I started playing with tesselations connected to this form in order to understand what kinds of patterns might present.

In my continued research into tesselation I encountered this children's lesson which could lead my investigations moving forward into a zero waste option for creating form. tesselations papercut method


The "TRAP" method turned into the "LISA" method as I worked to better understand how form was created using this process. In a series of trials I began to understand how the positioning of the exit and entry lined impacted form. These experiments helped me to understand that starting and ending my cut at the midline would create the most uniform looking shape without obvious long straight edges.

form Ultimately I resolved to move forward with this form inspired by the illustration I found in my environment.

Analog play They look the same, but they simply have the same genetics - they are not the same.


I worked in Rhino to create my 2D forms as I'm already very familiar with Illustrator and want to improve my Rhino skills.

Rhino moved me from my analog paper process into digital forms inspired by the grpahical forms of Eduardo Chillida. The forms have a bit of bulbus angularity that would serve as a series of attachment ends that could be folded and slotted into the modular form.

Rhino Forms

How to: * drag and drop an image file into Rhino * Using Spline follow the outline in order to replicate the form, clicking sequentially in order to achor the line * Using "trim' function erase one side of each of the lines in order to link the pieces together ensuring not to overlap * Use "join" command in order to unify the form

SAIL configuration sheet

Major Laser

describe what you see in this image describe what you see in this image Betiana created a series of laser tests using our crafted felt, however it would require more "tricky tricky" and multiple layers in order to be strong enough to hold up to a modular tesselated form. The laser an FL1409 has a 800x1600mm print bed and uses a CO2 laserbeam in order to make the cuts. It is important to have the machine vented and to keep the cover closed in order to protect yourself from smoke, light and gasses.

Moving forward with a synthetic felt as my medium we created a series of tests using the following process:

1. Upload DXF to machine
2. Establish **cutting speed: 60mm/s**
3. Identify power to cut: **30,33 (min + max power)** for cut and  **40,53 (min + max power)** to mark the fold line
4. Tape down material
5. Calibrate laser height
6. Set origin and test print frame
7. Turn on extractor
8. Run laser

The laser an FL1409 has a 800x1600mm print bed and uses a CO2 laserbeam in order to make the cuts. It is important to have the machine vented and to keep the cover closed in order to protect yourself from smoke, light and gasses.

Initial tests were crated in paper in order to iterate on the 3D forms of connection. After I found a replicable form I moved to synthetic felt 2mm thick. Because the felt melts we needed to do a series of trials in order to understand how much the form would shrink because of burn out. We also learned that taping the back of the felt would prevent the back side of the form from becoming browned.

Using and initial setting of 30,33 (speed, power) we went forward with a full print of the tesselation completing a first pass using a very fast speed and low power in order to create a marking that would allow the form to bend in a line, or fold. On the second pass we made the cut at a setting of 40,53 this meant that the fabric wouldn't shift accidentally in our process.


Final Proto Back The final prototype had a spine like frame and used folding, looping and fitted tabs in order to create the form.

Assembly using this material was tricky, in future for a folded tab styel structure I would use a stronger and more flexible material such as leather or bio blastic.

Tools + Files

2D/3D modelling Rhino3D


Image resizing

Files to re-create this form can be found HERE

Last update: 2022-11-15