LED Guitar and Conductive Thread Video
My name is Todd. I work at Superior Threads. I'm a student, a musician, and a first time quilter. My first sewing project was probably when I was 12 or 13. In Boy Scouts, we had to hem our Scout pants. I don't remember what type of merit badge that it was, but I remember having to stitch and then pick all my stitches apart and then re-sew again and again. But I finally hemmed my pants to the correct length, and I remember making my mom so proud. That was probably the start of my sewing experience in my life.
I decided to embark on my first quilt project for a couple of reasons. Number one, I had a quilting influence in my life. My mom is a registered quilt-aholic, and my wife is starting down that slippery slope herself, so they love to sew and to quilt and to do all types of embroidery, anything involving a sewing machine, pretty much, and they were having a lot of fun with it. So I've never been one to be meticulous in what I'm trying to do, but the creativity really came along. I was involved as a musician for many years and really enjoyed the art of expression and the ability to express yourself through whatever means. For me, it was music, for others, it's painting, and for my mother, it was sewing, so I wanted to try and see if I could express myself through quilting or through sewing.
Since being a big fan of music, the king of rock and roll, we've got Elvis, and through photography, we have Andy Warhol. When you kind of mix the two, you have that really cool pop art photo trend that he started. But, for me, I wanted to kind of infuse a little bit of my hobbies, which were music, and I enjoy photography, so I thought, well, this will be a great opportunity for my first quilt. What I decided was, well, I like music, so why don't I start with a guitar. Well, a guitar was too big, but I had a ukulele, and lucky for me, it was just the right size.
Well, once I had the basic idea in my head of what I wanted to do, fusing photography and music together to create this piece, since I work at Superior Threads, there is no shortage of thread options for me. I've seen at many trade shows that I've done a lot of people who will create fiber art, is what it's called, where they'll take fiber and lay it down with some water soluble stabilizer, like Dissolve™, and they'll kind of sandwich their own fabric, and they'll stitch it through. Then when they wash it, and when it dries, then they've got their own fabric. That was kind of the starting point for me, is I wanted to make my own guitars out of my own fabric.
So we have what we call thread tails. It's the ends of when we're winding our own bobbins. So what I did when I brought the thread tails home, I took the Dissolve-4X ™ water-soluble stabilizer and created a sandwich, with the thread tails in the middle so that I could make my own fabric in the end. It was an easy process. I just put 4X down, put the thread tails in between, and then more 4X on top. Then I just kind of sewed a grid pattern. So I ended up with this block of fabric, and I put the ukulele on top, traced it with a Sharpie, and cut it out. Then I just put it in the water, and I ended up with my basic guitar shape.
Now that I had the guitar shape down, it was easy for me to follow along with that, doing just basic embellishment on the actual shape of the guitars. The next step I needed to create was the backing fabric, where the wall hanging would be, and while I was at my parents' house, I saw this really cool stencil of my mom's, so I asked her what it was for. She said, "Oh, it's for a stencil. When you create leaves, this is what you can use." I thought, well, that would be really cool to piece that on it and make an entire background texture for the guitar [idea]. So from a quick lesson from her, I came home and I got right to work, and I wanted to do a wave pattern with different colors of fabric, just to kind of add a little bit more accent, a little more texture to what the finished product would be.
The lighting idea came from several different sources. The first one is we started carrying conductive thread, which conducts electricity, as it sounds, and the next one was from E-Textiles, where LEDs, conductive thread, everything that can be electronic, which is incorporated into clothing. So with those two, I thought, well, why don't I make some of my frets light up, or why don't I make my tuning machines light up on the guitars that I'm making. So I just borrowed a little bit from left field, borrowed a little bit from right field, combined it, and came up with the lighting pattern on the guitars.
My next project? I would really like to learn how to do thread painting. I think that's a very incredible skill to have, so I've got some ideas on how I can learn and what I can do in order to incorporate that into my next project.