Category Archives: Things I Make

Quilt & Code

#1

#2

 

I grew up with a sewing machine in the house. My mom taught herself how to sew at a very young age and became very skilled at just about any type of garment. Probably half of our family closet was custom-made — everything from bathing suits to fur winter coats. Following her example, I sewed a few outfits for my dolls but beyond that never managed to produce anything wearable in real size. Alas, I don’t make my own wardrobe. But my affinity for fabrics and threads persisted nonetheless and these days I will sew anything that has a straight edge — pillow cases, totes, curtains and, occasionally, quilts!

I didn’t actually know much about quilts until only a few years ago. Nobody in my family made them and their traditional aesthetic was never that attractive to me. But I gave them a closer look once I discovered that I have a slight obsessive-compulsive tendency for assembling big things from small pieces. After doing some research to see if there were any new modern trends in quilting I came upon Japanese textile artist Yoshiko Jinzenji and her work totally transformed my mindset about what quilting can be. I was instantly inspired and embarked on my first quilt back in 2008. It was lots of fun but also lots of work. I wasn’t sure how soon I would want to do another one.

Last summer I finally got the itch again and made two quilts at once! But this time I took a different approach. To be honest, I’m not so much interested in the patchwork aspect of a traditional quilt (which some might argue is the whole point!). Perhaps the most important part that was revealed to me in Jinzenji’s work was that fabric can be as much of a creative surface as paper or an oil canvas. Duh!

So for these quilts, I wrote a couple of geometric algorithms to generate the designs and then used Spoonflower to get them printed on large pieces of cotton. (Unfortunately one of the colours was too light and didn’t  come out but thankfully the designs still worked overall). Then came the quilting — 5mm apart — the most labour-intensive part of the process! With my first quilt I didn’t go for such frequency but I kept seeing it in Yoshiko’s work and wanted to try it. All I can say is that once the quilting was done, it took me another six months to attach the binding, haha. The final result is a rather stiff and heavy panel which works best as a wall-hanging or a mat, not so much as a sleeping cover. I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It’s confirmed to me once again that I like working with fabric and hope to continue using it in my future projects.

 

The Evolution of WURM UI

WURM is a generative mobile app that I first released at the end of 2010. Unwittingly, it has become an on-going pet project that I still keep tinkering with. Part of the reason is that I keep learning the iOS platform. When I started making the app I knew almost nothing about Objective-c or developing in the OSX environment. In hindsight, it actually seems a miracle that I even got it on the App Store given how little I truly understood about what I was doing. Coding on blind faith was more like it. But it was fun and now, over two years later, I feel pretty comfortable around the iOS. 

The other part of it became the UI. The touch interface was such a novel and exciting canvas that my inner designer couldn’t get enough of it. Still can’t. If I had to guess, the UI probably takes up the biggest chunk of my process because, unlike coding, there’s not a lot of logic to it. It’s very organic and I usually have to “see it to feel it”. That often takes many iterations, and even when I do settle on something, I’m never 100% sure of it. But I ship anyway, knowing that things will inevitably change in the next update. It’s the process itself that I seem to get hooked on. The truth might be there somewhere..

Here’s WURM design timeline to date (iPad version not shown).

Version 1.0: First official version, designed using mostly default controls.

WRM-UI-1_0a   WRM-UI-1_0b

 

Version 1.4: Custom-designed controls; new shuffle button; also purchased my first iPad, which led to a universal UI adaptable in all orientations.

WRM-UI-1.4a   WRM-UI-1.4b

 

Version 1.7: By this point I designed a bigger dashboard for the iPad but the look of UI elements remained the same, so I continued refining.

WRM-UI-1.7a   WRM-UI-1.7b

 

Version 2.0: I had new ideas for the app, which required a significant change in the programming logic, which in turn, forced a new UI overhaul.

WRM-UI-2.0a   WRM-UI-2.0b

 

Version 2.1: I’m the biggest user of my app and by this point I craved something fresh; decided to try a lighter and simplified look.

WRM-UI-2.1a   WRM-UI-2.1b