So, waaaaayyy back in November I had the honor of being invited to be an assistant in the Electronic Clothes Workshop that was held at Shih Chien University, taught by electronics engineer wizard Paul Gough.

Shih Chien University is the leading local fashion design university, and I’m so fortunate to have met some of their talented staff. After learning of my experience making the LED costumes for TS Fire Group, they thought it would be a good match to join Paul during his workshop. (yay!)

Here are some clips of the workshop (including one of me explaining my TS design!), shot and edited by Frans of Mindfield Film Production.

There were 22 students, and were separated into 7 groups – each group would be responsible for one working garment. At first, the students had to sew some LED’s into a T-shirt so that they got used to using conductive thread and making good electrical contacts. You want that thread taut!

shih jian university students sewing paul gough electronic clothes workshop

Below is one of the sample garments Paul used to teach students the basics of how a closed circuit works. Don’t cross your wires, or let them touch, or you will short it and that equals no lights :( Patience is a virtue in sewing :)

led closed circuit conductive thread paul gough sample garment

They used single LEDs with a small battery case:

leds small battery case

After learning about the simple mechanics, students progressed to learning about dynamic and sensing electronics (the Lily Pad Arduiro, electronics that can sense sound, light, and movement changes).

led sonic shirt sound sensing paul gough sample garment

This workshop focused on electronics that sensed sound and responded to it by lighting up LEDs. The students were given the target market of a club goer in their early 20s to design for. They were also limited to designing with 6 strips of 5 LEDs.

Students gave a presentation on their ideas, and then had a few days to produce a working garment for the final runway show (make it werk!) All of the groups worked extremely hard, and some had to overcome design challenges with the technical restraints of using conductive thread, as you can’t cross positive and negative wires. That meant students had to preplan everything, and then put it into working action.

I got to be one of the judges on the last day. I wanted them all to win – they were so good! One of my favorites was the group of girls who used colored parafin oil in pockets backlit with LEDs. Creative use of the lights, and excellent sewing execution. I know how hard it is to sew!

led dress with oil in pockets designers shih jian university

After the runway show, everyone hung out and took photos. Below are two students who switcheroo-ed their garments, I’d wear both, wouldn’t you? (Extra points for wearing Jeffery Campbell Clinics on the left!)

shih jian university students electronic clothes workshop

I wish I had more awesome pictures to show you, but you’ll just have to refer to the video up there… I only had my cell phone and the shots didn’t really turn out. (SORRY!)

I also wanted to mention – this ENTIRE workshop was conducted in ENGLISH – the students’ second language. (Chinese and/or Taiwanese is their first) It was not only difficult to understand the technical aspect even if you spoke English, but they had to explain their designs and present their ideas in English. A big round of applause for that feat, I doubt I would’ve done as well in Chinese! BRAVO!

I’ll leave you with a shot of Paul and I on the last day of the workshop, in my own pair of JC Lita Spike 2s – honestly Paul is not that short!paul gough jenna pearce

Thank you so much to Paul Gough and Grace Hsieh for including me in this year’s workshop. I had so much fun and learned a lot! <3

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