Weave-wish You a Merry Christmas !

So for our final project we really wanted to go back to the roots of “artisanal tech” and combine our interests in fashion with the new techniques we learned in class throughout the semester. We combined the traditional technique of weaving with a keyboard hack in order to turn a framed textile into a musical instrument.


You can find tutorials on how to create a simple loom and weave, for example here:


Start by weaving a textile to work with.

Step 1:

Start with a frame that you’ve purchased.

Step 2:

With a pencil, mark 1 cm width dots on opposing sides of the frame. Hammer nails into the marks you’ve made.

Step 3:

Choose a textile to use for the warp of your weave. This can be anything you want. People use string, yarn, and occasionally fabric. We chose a silk charmeuse that was torn by hand and connected together through hand knotting.

Step 4:

Tie a knot around one of the furthest nails to anchor the warp textile to the frame, and create the war by running your textile up and down the frame, wrapping around the nails you’ve hammered in.

Step 5:

Once your warp is done, choose a conductive metal to work with for your weft. We used various weights of copper wire to give the weaving a richer aesthetic value. We also used double- and quadruple- thicknesses of the thinner copper wire in points.

Step 6:

Start to weave. This is the most time consuming (and the most painful) part. Your fingers will probably bleed. And will most likely turn into hard knobs of leather.

You can choose whatever weaving pattern you’d like. We used a standard “one over, one under” pattern because there was so much going on otherwise. We also did some fancy things like making a second-tier weft and weave with only the copper wire, and wrapping the silk weft in places. We also chose to leave some of the weft unwoven because we thought the silk was pretty on its own. You can do as you wish here.

Once you’ve gotten some good weaving in, your textile will start to become moldable. Be sure to take advantage of this, as the moldable elements are crucial to making the “buttons” of your circuit work.

The only thing you really need to be sure of is that all of your weaving parts are connected to one another.

Once you’re happy with the composition of the weave, you can move on the keyboard-hacking part of the project.


Hack your keyboard.

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Step 1:

First take a keyboard that is compatible with both PC/MAC (we decided to try a wireless keyboard first). Note that if you use a wireless keyboard, attention is required to maintain the integrity of the power source.

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Take the keyboard apart using a screwdriver and be careful not to damage the internal circuitry. Isolate the circuit board and again be careful not to damage any of the components as these are necessary for hacking.

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Step 2:

In order to test the conductivity of our materials, we used a multimeter, placing the sensors at various points along the woven tapestry. Because the nature of the weaving involves crossing the copper wires, we needed to determine whether there were any isolated sections of the woven piece that could serve as individual conductive surfaces.


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Because we started with a wireless keyboard, we needed to maintain the power source in order to test the functionality of the keyboard’s isolated circuit board. We ran into some difficulties with the initial testing, and in order to troubleshoot, we first confirmed that the batteries included with the keyboard were in fact charged and functional by creating a simple circuit with an LED. Because the LED did light up when we did this, we were able to confirm that the batteries were functional, and we also confirmed that the wires we were using were conductive as well.

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Once the individual components were troubleshooted and confirmed to be working, we began testing the keys of the circuit board in order to isolate specific combinations that resulted in letters that we recorded in order to utilize them later.

Step 3:

Once we determined a number of combinations, we were able to begin soldering copper wire onto the circuit board to extend the circuits and create a set-up for our touch sensors that would be incorporated into the woven piece.

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To secure the soldering, we used hot glue as reinforcement.

Step 4:

Moving on to the other side of our sensor, we used the laser cutter to cut a piece of board to back our woven piece, which would serve as the other half of our sensor. We also laser cut a piece of decorative paper and spray-mounted it to the board to make the backing more visually appealing.

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We created spirals out of copper wire to create a more “tactile” surface against which our woven piece would be pressed. We created a spiral for each key that we were using on the keyboard circuit board which we then looped through the board backing through holes that we drilled in locations that corresponded to the conductive areas of the woven piece.

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Pull the spirals through the holes that you drilled, keeping the wire long and straight in the back. Secure to the rear side of the backing with copious amounts of hot glue, keeping the wires straight and parallel (never ever crossing).

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Hammer nails to the back of the frame to create paths for the individual wires to go around the back of the frame without crossing. Hot glue in place. Again, the wires should never touch or cross.

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Attach the pre-soldered circuit board to the place on the frame that your wires are running to with really an abundant amount of hot glue. Connect the wires from the frame to the wires of the circuit board.


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