Category: Web & Technology

Inspiring Urb Garden

I am blown away by this amazing “Urb Garden: A vertical food garden for the urban gardener”. So stinkin’ smart! It connects up to a compost system that allows you to water your plants via foot pump with compost-enriched water. It’s just the COOLEST! This makes me wonder if maybe we create some sort of deck compost system that is “pumped” in a similar fashion – I wonder how hard that would be to make…

Follow the link above for more pictures. You’ve got to check this thing out!

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(via Craftzine)

One of my Craft How-To Blog posts is featured on OffBeatBride.com!!

You may remember one of my very first posts was a “How To” post on creating a Keepsake “Book” for my wedding cards. Well, someone on OffBeatBride.com saw it (or a version of it I posted on their community site (http://offbeatbride.ning.com/) and one of their editors wrote it up as a featured DIY article on their blog!

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I’m now officially a contributing member of the online craft community! And the best part is Shrie, the editor, was SO generous about giving Swap-O-Rama-Rama a shout out at the beginning AND end of the post!

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I’m famous!

DIY Sewable Electronics Round Up – Any Other Ideas?

I’m looking for some ideas for practical projects for wearable and interactive textiles. LilyPad is a company that, in combination with Sparkfun Electronics, has developed affordable round-edged circuit components meant to be used in clothing and textiles. They are even washable!!

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(Photo from sternlab.org – one of the best sources for Lilypad projects I’ve found)

If you are interested in trying out this combo of high and low tech crafting, there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a jump start. Sparkfun Electronics is having a Free Day on Jan. 7, 2010! They are offering each household the opportunity to purchase $100 of free materials – just pay shipping! How amazing is that!

Using conductive thread and small, lightweight batteries, you can combine their different products to create amazing interactive pieces of clothing!

This is simple stuff that can be combined for awesome results! They have sensors that can detect changes in:

  • Light
  • Temperature
  • Movement and vibrations (accelerometer)

You can complete your circuit using:

  • Push button
  • Switch
  • Magnetic Snap

They interface with components that can give you:

  • Lights
  • Sounds
  • Vibrations

You can even program behavior into your circuit boards using a USB cable that links to your computer – WAY COOL!picture53.png
(Photo from SparkFun.com)

The best idea I’ve seen online so far is a jacket that lets bikers signal their turns with buttons on their sleeves:

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You’ve got to check out this video – posted on Instructables.com and created by Lilypad founder Leah Buechley:

(Electronic Material components for this project on Sparkfun.com are $113 + $9 shipping to Chicago – but only $22 total if you get in on Free Day!)

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Other cool projects I’ve found that use these types of electronics:

An adorable frog and firefly embroidery from Becky Stern:

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Gloves that work with the iPhone with the use of conductive thread – (An Instructable.com tutorial for a DIY version here.)

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A GORGEOUS Wind-sensitive electronic dress:

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I’m not super interested in just making purses or jewelry with blinking lights – though this purse with a light inside is wicked cool:

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I just know there are more awesome ways to utilize this technology in a way that will solve problems that I’m currently having (the conductive finger iPhone gloves are BRILLIANT).

I’ve got an idea for a purse that alerts you when your phone is vibrating inspired by a project in the book Fashioning Technology that you will hopefully see realized in a future blog post.

This stuff is only just becoming affordable so I know there are new uses that haven’t been thought of yet. Please let me know if you can think of any projects and I’ll attempt to prototype them!

Indie-Crafters Knit Together Powerful Social Media Communications

NOTE:  This is a copy of a story I wrote for my work blog Astekblog.com.

I’m a huge fan of the Indie-Craft Movement and I have been impressed with the way the community as a whole has embraced Social Media Marketing.

Indie-Craft – also called alternative craft, alt-craft, new wave craft, craftivism, green-craft, eco-craft, DIY (do-it-yourself) craft, etc – is often paired with the tag line “Not your grandma’s craft.” The artists and makers who art part of this movement use traditional crafting techniques like knitting, needlepoint, screen printing, felting, crocheting and more to make fashion, accessories and decor often with a punk, indie-music and urban aesthetic.

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Another trend of the movement is the embrace of entrepreneurism – similar to the Arts and Craft movement at the turn of the century, these makers are exploring ways to make a dignified, self sufficient living selling things they have made themselves. In this movement “handmade” and “self-employed“ are badges of honor and many makers are dedicated to ecological and economical practices like sustainability, reuse and “up-cycling.”

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The internet provides today’s makers with easy and free access to buyers across the globe. In fact, many credit the internet with the rise of the current indie-craft movement. Sites like etsy.com make it possible for part-time and full-time crafters all over the world to connect with customers.

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Another online trend in the Indie-Craft movement is the free exchange of ideas, patterns and resources. Sites like instructables.com make it easier than ever for DIYers to share instructions on making just about anything. The Indie-Craft community has undeniably blossomed around the free exchange of patterns and how-to’s now available on the internet.

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The community jumped on the blog bandwagon early and with great success. Blogs are a great medium for an individual to share photos and videos showing off projects, asking for feedback and sharing instructions. Soon blogs like blog.craftzine.com and indiefixx.com sprang up, aggregating the best projects from the individual crafter’s blogs and exploring current trends.

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Lately, I’ve been noticing how plugged in many of the indie-crafters are to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. blog.craftzine.com has created one of my favorite Twitter feeds through @craft_tips which watches twitter feeds of various crafters and publishes helpful tips like

craftzine48x48_bigger_bigger3.jpg“burn/melt the ends of nylon strapping or cord with a lighter to prevent it from fraying”

or

craftzine48x48_bigger_bigger4.jpg“A 6″ wisk broom, found with camping gear, helps to scrub the fabric bits out of your cutting mat and sweep them off. (via @sanourra)”

or

craftzine48x48_bigger_bigger5.jpg“Make replacement shirt collar stays by slicing the plastic fake credit cards you get in junk mail. (via @justsomeguy)“

So what lessons about marketing and creating online communities can we learn from the Indie-Craft movement?

SHARE: This community created a vibrant market out of a previously far-scattered audience by pooling their resources. Etsy.com has consolidated buyers and sellers and gave them all one place to meet. Contrary to common wisdom, setting up shop ”next door“ to their competitors actually strengthened the majority of these sellers businesses.

SAVE THE WORLD: Because of it’s ties to sustainability and ecology, the Indie-Craft movement gained a lot of traction with the renewed energy of the ”green“ cause. Also, the collapse of the economy in the last year has lent strength to the messages of self sustainability, self sufficiency and the trend of making instead of buying. Set against these noble causes, the products that these sellers are offering are solutions to some of the greatest problems facing America right now. Being able to put your message in the context of being part of a movement to save the world is a great way to build brand loyalty and allow you to move the conversation away from price. And in fact, some Indie-Crafters have noticed an increase in the price buyers are willing to pay for their goods in the last couple years.

BE TRANSPARENT: The members of this movement pride themselves on their ”authenticity.“ Many blogs will show the failed projects right along with the successes. There is a free flow of advice and conversation back and forth between maker, reader and buyer. This solidifies the sense of community and creates intense customer loyalty. Constant customer feedback also allows the makers to make improvements to their production methods and products almost constantly.

GIVE: Indie-Crafters are constantly giving advise, tips, links, how-to instructions, and encouragement. This both creates community and builds recognition for those who’s advice is particularly insightful or valuable. It’s a great example of brand building.