Maggie Orth
Art, Technology, Design

Electronic Textiles

Electronic Textiles are textiles that integrate conductive elements, often yarns or fibers ino the textile. I currently focus on two types of electronic textiles, programmable color-change textiles, and touch sensitive textiles with light. All of my pieces are stand-alone and made with robust custom electronics. They are designed to be simple and work.

Color-Change Textiles

Programmable color-change textiles are like a painting that changes color under computer control.

Progammable color-change textiles combine woven electrodes with conductive yarn, thermochromic ink, drive electronics, and expressive software. Textile electrodes are woven with resistive yarns in the weft and highly conductive yarns in the warp. Plain weave connects these yarns together electrically. The weaving is printed with thermochromic ink, which changes color when heated. Drive electronics send current to the resistive yarns, which heat up and cause the ink to change the color. Expressive software controls the patterns and sequences of the color-change events.

Programmable color-change textiles are reflective (do not light up). They should be displayed like any other textile, in an artificially well lit space, protected from UV light. In general pieces are mounted on the wall, like a painting, however, custom works can be created to wrap or hang over surfaces.

How do color change textiles evolve over time?
Maggie Orth's color-change textiles are evolving paintings. Over time, the ink ceases to cycle and the bright colors permanently burned into the surface of the canvas. Thus, the final composition and color effect of the artwork is created by software, weave structure and the artist's design.

Textile Touch Sensitive Light Textiles
Interactive touch sensor textile and light artworks combine patented textile touch sensors with incandescent or LED light. These works allow viewers to touch a soft textile surface and trigger interactive patterns and light effects. Software-generated dynamic patterns emerge and evolve over time. These works explore the light-transmissive properties of textiles, such as color and saturation. They are best displayed in low light environments and can be used as light sources as well as artworks.

Textile touch sensors are made from conductive yarn that is charged with a small, harmless amount of electricity. Because your body is a big bag of conductive salt water, touching the conductive yarn allows the electrical charge to flow from the yarn, through your body, to ground. Sensors detect this change in charge and send an electrical signal to brighten and dim the lights.

These sensors can be created with a variety of textile processes, on a variety of textile substrates. Maggie particuarly enjoys making a range of fuzzy sensors, from POM POM's to tufting and eylash yarns.