Vellus machina

Inspiration for Vellus machina came from my work Consumerism as Manifestation of Eugenics. Vellus machina provokes and addresses  the interests of consumers afraid and/or excited about developments in Artificial Intelligence and robotics through the form of an interactive, breathing robot.

To generate the form for Vellus machina, I soaked reeds in water and wove them around a manikin form to create its body. I repeated this process three times to generate the whole form.

I decided to recreate the first iteration of Vellus machina's form in RhinoCAD and Grasshopper so that I could make sure that Vellus machina would fit on the stand for the Digital Fabrication Studio Research: Unrvl the Code 2016 group show. I also chose to remodel in Grasshopper and Rhino so that I could tweak the original form.

After I modeled Vellus machina in Rhino and Grasshopper, I laser cut the generated form. I used the generated form to weave the final form of Vellus machina.

I decided to wet felt uncarded wool to create Vellus machina's fur. I wanted its fur to be reminiscent of a mammal's.

Initially, I wanted the fur to be naturally dyed gray with sunflower heads, but I realized that this was not needed to convey my idea. Instead, I utilized the original coloring of the material.

To create Vellus machina's change in breathing rate, I worked with an engineer to develop a calibration code that caused Vellus machina to breathe slower when touched. The mechanics that caused this movement include an Arduino, conductive fabric that senses touch, and a touch capacitance sensor.


Femme+Masc is an initial exploration in the use of organic shapes and bright colors to make hand-drafted, gender neutral garments that combat Western associations of the organic/colorful being feminine. 

Moodboard/Text Inspiration and Color Palette for Femme+Masc

I started out my sketches for

Femme+Masc by generating garment designs on female croquis. After generating about 15 designs on a female croqui, I experienced a design revelation. I realized I should be drawing designs on a male croqui. By doing so, I would be able to contradict pretaught notions of where organic shapes and color should exist in garment design.

Illustrator flats of final garment design for Femme+Masc

AMERICAN MADE: I (we) you (me) can perpetrate and empathize at the same time

Images, quotes, and collections that I pulled as initial inspiration 

For material exploration, I focused on pushing the material limits of velvet and kombucha leather. Velvet possesses a lusciousness that gives one a sense of comfort and care, a trait that is needed when addressing complex topics. The image here is of pushing laser engraved velvet to its limit. 

The other aspect of my material exploration is kombucha leather. Kombucha leather is a material that results from a green tea/sugar vat with a SCOBY left in it undisturbed for two weeks. Kombucha captures my attention for its ability to  fascinate and disgust people depending on its material state. Since it was a material I was not as familiar with, I chose to devote the majority of my material exploration to the kombucha leather. 

Kombucha leather while it's wet(left) and it's drying(right) 

Kombucha dyed in a brazilwood/alum bath

Exploration of placing kombucha leather to dry over 3-D print forms, brazilwood dyed china silk, and indigo/brazilwood dyed china silk. 

Kombucha leather from different colored teas to see if I could minimize waste from the dye process. Turmeric tea (left), brazilwood tea (right)

During my time of material exploration, I also learned how to make furniture so that I could explore how I could control how people interact with the work. The bench on the left ended up being a part of my final thesis exhibition. 

Since I pursued different ways of depicting the body, I studied different ways humans depicted the body in the past, such as in window displays, Bodies: The Exhibition, Victorian Post-Mortem photographs, and the sculptures of Edward Degas.

To create a model accurate to size and to make sure I created the pose I desired, I wrapped myself in duct tape sticky side out and then recovered the duct tape sticky side down so that I would have a relatively water repellent surface to drape kombucha leather on.

To make sure the kombucha leather wrapped around the duct tape form evenly, I put it in a two-sided press to get water out of it evenly. 

Duct tape body wrapped in kombucha leather sheets

After completing the body, I designed and prototyped the assless chaps. I thought that I would end up dressing the body in the assless chaps, but after mocking up the work, I realized that this would not be best for the work.

Process of utilizing RhinoCAD to draft the pants so that they would fit in an 18" by 32" lasercutter bed while still fitting the body 

Prototyping the work also involved determining what height and size a pedestal needed to be create the intended interactions with the kombucha body. To accomplish this goal, I placed the kombucha body at different heights while it was in the same space of the bench.

Three quarter sketch of the pedestal for I (we) you (me) can perpetrate and empathize at the same time 

Process of making parts of the pedestal on the CNC Router as well as a mock up of what the corner of the pedestal would look like 

A critique of the mock up allowed me to realize there needed to be another material language for the object to convey my concept. In this case, I explored abaca paper pulp, a material that could provide support for the kombucha sculpture where needed as well as convey aspects of my concept.   

Another critique made me realize that the original object I made was too stiff. Combining the abaca material as well as breaking up the kombucha body allowed me to reach the place the work needed to be.

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