All posts by Stephanie

Final Project

For my final project, I combined a lot of material research and experimentation to create a few different prototypes to support my major studio 2 research.  The project speculates the future of wearable tech as it relates to a changing landscape:

In the year 2050…

…the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the projections are that the global average temperature will be 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than present by 2050. That amount of warming will likely lock us into at least 4 to 6 meters of sea-level rise in subsequent centuries, because parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will slowly melt away like a block of ice on the sidewalk in the summertime. At 3 meters (almost 10 feet), on average more than 20 percent of land in those cities could be affected. Nine large cities, including Boston and New York, would have more than 10 percent of their current land area submerged (Source: UA’s Institute of the Environment.)

New developments are emerging everyday about this:

A large portion of the world’s population lives in coastal areas. Even a 1-meter rise will affect 100 million people worldwide; higher sea level rises will affect even more. A 2- meter rise in seas is enough to submerge huge expanses of commercial and residential real estate, dispossessing people, forcing migrations away from coastal areas, and putting an end to the productive use of developed land along coast lines and flood-susceptible waterways.

My final project focused on developing future wearable products for humans living in aquatic environments.


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This piece is an experimentation in using bioluminescent algae as a “material” and functional light source for the wearer at night.

Bioluminescent dinoflagellates are a type of planktonic algae inhabiting coastal ocean waters. Individual cells of Pyrocystis species are relatively large, and slightly discernible to the unaided eye. At night, bioluminescent dinoflagellates emit blue light, called bioluminescence, in response to movement in the water. Bioluminescence becomes visible only after nightfall, driven by a circadian rhythm which is entrained by light-dark cycles. Bioluminescence can only be observed during the entrained night
period, and is best observed several hours after nightfall. Abruptly moving a culture of Pyrocystis from light to dark will not result in bioluminescence, due to the circadian control of this chemical reaction.

Here is video documentation of me testing the algae:

photo 3

This piece is my interpretation of a wearable coral prosthetic that is designed to be able to support underwater plant life and sea creatures. I modeled the coral in Maya and printed the pieces on the Objet printer. Again I was interested in developing devices that promoted a symbiotic relationship between the human body and their immediate environment (in this case being an aquatic setting).

I also added bioplastics into the experimentation process to see what would happen. I had failed with bioplastics before, but this time I decided to follow the recipes that were successful from my classmates.

I used 1 tsp glycerin,1 tsp vinegar,  4tsp water, 1 tbs tapioca starch

photo 3 copy


I tried embedding 3d printed scales that I made into the plastic itself to see what the result would be. It turned out to be interesting because the plastic added more flexibility to the pieces. I ended up not using this method for my final piece (which was a muscle sensor that triggered sound), but have ideas for more experiments with bioplastics in the future.



So the first recipe I tried I had found in the Green Plastics book. I was curious about using algae in bioplastics, but it was a challenge to find Agar, as well as sorbitol. I found Agar flakes which I’m not sure played a part in this recipe not working whatsoever.



¼ tsp gelatin

¼ tsp agar

½ cup glycerol solution

¼ cup water

The directions were pretty unclear but basically said to throw all the ingredients in a pot over medium heat. After stirring for 10 straight minutes, the mixture wasn’t solidifying so I added ¼ tsp sorbitol … still nothing happened so I added ¼ tsp starch. It did nothing to help create the plastic so I abandoned this batch.


For my second experiment, I followed a youtube video exactly. I got ok results except I think either I used a pot that was too big or the recipe maybe should have been doubled. It completely evaporated after I let it dry.


For my third experiment I went back to the Green Plastics (


¼ tsp sorbitol

½ tsp starch

¼ tsp gelatin

¼ tsp agar

½ cup glycerol solution

(2 x + ¾ cup water)

This didn’t solidify again so I tried first adding 1 tsp vinegar. No luck. Then added 1 tsp straight glycerin. Nope. Then I tried adding another ½ tsp starch. Didn’t work.


For my fourth and final experiment I followed this instructable –

The result is more gel-like than plastic but I was afraid of microwaving it for too long.


Intimate Science Review


The Intimate Science exhibit !


This project by Markus Kayser (the Solar Sinter Project) was interesting to me because it speculates about the future of manufacturing and energy harvesting. Utilizing the sun as a primary source of energy has been at the forefront of energy conservation for a while now. In this video, Kayser demonstrates sand being converted into glass using the Solar Sinter.


I was particularly found of the projects part of the PostNatural History center. It presents interesting ideas about the future of not only certain species that have been altered through biotechnology, but also the future of documenting these new organisms.


All the mushroom architecture were beautiful, but I’m allergic to mushrooms so it made me nervous to be around all that fungus.


IMG_1532What I liked about the Machine Project’s work, was that it added a different element than any of the other projects at the exhibit. Their project used both performance and participatory techniques that (like Genspace) aim to bring DIY technology to the public in an interesting way.


Midterm Project

I have been researching and designing speculative wearable pieces for my Major Studio 2 class. At first I attempted to model one of these designs in Maya, but had a lot of problems so I ended up sculpting it in clay – my next steps with that piece is to make a silicone mold of the model. But for the midterm, I decided to switch gears and create a different piece that was inspired by the idea of coral prosthetics. This piece is based on the scenario of a future city that is mostly submerged underwater. The coral acts an extension of the body that allows the human wearer to integrate more closely with their new aquatic environment. I chose coral for several reasons. Firstly, coral is used right now as a bone prosthetic because of its properties that allow it to integrate with the human body with no problems. Secondly, coral is endangered. This is a crisis because coral reefs make up a huge part of the ecosystem in most parts of the ocean, acting as shelter and sources of food for many other marine animals and plants.


After I finished my 3D model to be print ready, I headed to the makerbots over on 13th st. I’m not sure if anyone else encountered this, but when I got there all the machines except 1 were broken. I had to print the week before spring break because I was leaving the country so I decided to give it a whirl and see if my model would print.  After sitting there for 2 hours, the makerbot stopped working and I had to abandon any hope of finishing it there.

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My next stop was at the ARC to see if I could order the model to printed on the Objet printer. After a few tweaks here and there, the technician accepted my file and I would then have to wait a little over two weeks to finally pick up the completed model.

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Here is a pic of the makerware even though I didn’t end up printing on the Makerbot.

photo 2 photo 1And the final print (after I took the supports off- still trying to clean it totally). In the end it is still smaller than I would have liked, but the bigger it is the more expensive it is to print. Overall, I am happy with how it turned out and plan on printing more pieces that go with this one.

Drop box link:

Midterm Project

For my project, I am interested in modeling some prototypes that correlate with my Major Studio work. I am creating a series of prosthetics that are meant to function in aquatic environments. The one I began trying to model in maya is a nose prosthetic that is inspired by the star nosed mole. It’s purpose would be to allow one to smell underwater. I am interested in exploring the best way to prototype these objects so I will be experimenting with both 3D printing and model making with clay. Later in the semester I hope to incorporate biomaterials.

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After not being able to control the model as much as I would have liked to create this object – I ended up modeling it in clay instead. I might make a mold out of it and make a silicone model of it next.

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As for 3D printing, I started on another piece that is part of my studio work that is wearable object (in this case- shoulder pads) that is modeled after a coral reef. This was much easier for me for some reason, however, I’m not sure at this point if it will print properly or not. (The head is just a reference- the wearable piece is just the shoulder pads.)

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Hello- my background is in costume design for film, television, and theater. Even though a large portion of this field resides in the tactile production of the costumes themselves, there is an equal important role of the research that goes into the design process. A costume designer must understand both the objective and the subjective factors that work together to determine why people clothe themselves as they do in order to fully develop the possibilities presented by the characters in any given situation. This understanding comes from observation and research, and shares a lot of similarities with the human centered design process.

My intention since the beginning of the program has always been to focus on wearable technology. Having spent quite some time bouncing around various ideas, I realized that through wearable tech I would be able to utilize all my skills and interests in one field. I hope to concentrate my research in this class on the future of prosthetics, and therefore reframing the very definition of it. I am particularly interested in the intersection between the body and the artificial, and the implications of design that merges the two.

– stephanie