Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting – Book Review

Fashioning Technology: A DIY Intro to Smart Crafting
Syuzi Pakhchyan

219 Pages
US $29.99 CAN $29.99
ISBN-10: 0-596-51437-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-596-51437-2

Crafting has been a part of my life since the first “paint by numbers” kit I got for Christmas when I was a kid. There was a time in my mid twenties when I was hooked on assembling Radio Shack kits. I’ve embroidered, knitted, crocheted, beaded, and made doilies and jellies and jams. Naturally I was drawn to this title, wanting to see what the future of crafting is all about.

After the welcome page, the book is laid out in five sections:
Materials, electronics, and tools;
Technical primers;
Home Accents; and
Interactive Toys

The sections are followed by four indexes that list resources, biographies, contributors and a general book index.

Section 1, Materials Electronics and Tools. Parts one and two introduce the reader to the new conductive and smart materials, and electronics available to crafters. These chapters include products such as conductive epoxies and textiles, fiber optics, LED’s, luminescent inks and paints, as well as more common objects such as cotter pins and zip ties. Part three of this section talks about components you will need and how they work. These include resistors, capacitors, switches, diodes, and transistors. Part four, Your Toolbox, lists the tools necessary to complete the projects listed in the book. Each part or material or tool listed in Section 1 is followed by a detailed explanation of the product and its use.

Section 2, Technical Primers takes the reader through sixteen tutorials which contain information on how to use the products listed in Section 1. By far this is the largest section of the book, taking up sixty pages. The reader will learn how to work with LED’s, circuits, power, soldering, screen printing, soft circuits and also how to troubleshoot. These are extremely useful for the crafter who has an interest in going beyond the simple projects listed later in the book.

Sections 3, 4 and 5 are the heart of Fashioning Technology, the Projects themselves. The projects in section 3, wearables, probably appeal to persons who have a more youthful exuberance than I. They include rock star headphones, an LED bracelet, the Space Invaders tote whose LED eyes light up when your cell phone rings, and Aerial the Birdie Brooch that chirps when activated by sunlight.

Home Accents teach how to make photochromic blinds, a luminescent tea table, an LED chandelier and Rock ‘n Roll portable speakers. The photochromic blinds and LED chandelier were the two projects in the book that are of the most interests to me. Photochromic blinds use screen printing processes with photochromic inks to make patterns on window blinds that appear with sunlight then disappear when the UV source is removed.

Section 5, Interactive Toys, include interactive e-puppets, which are finger puppets made from soft circuits that can whistle, squak and vibrate; Glam the Glo Bug, LED powered; the Solar Crawler, a solar powered wooden toy; and Smart Mobile, a kinetic sculpture made of smart wires. While toys are traditionally for children, these four projects will delight those who are young at heart.

The indexes at the end of the book contain a wealth of information on where to purchase the hi tech supplies used in these projects; the biographies of the author and contributors to the book; and an alphabetical index.

To Review:
Pro: Technically this book is well written and well laid out. The tutorials and project instructions are concise an informative. The information as presented can be understood by most people who know how to read and follow instructions.

Con: The startup costs to actually make the projects listed in the book, (or your own projects using the tutorials as a guide) may be more than most crafters want to spend especially if they are unfamiliar with the technology. There is not only the cost of the materials, but the cost of acquiring the tools needed as well. Also, I would want a dedicated craft room, or at least a dedicated craft area if I were going to use the technologies as presented.

Recommendation: A fun and easily challenging way to learn new technologies if the person can afford the tools and materials, and has a dedicated workspace.
MyMac rating 4 out of 5.

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