TORONTO WEARABLES MEETUP 12: RACHAEL KESS, RYAN TAYLOR
Friday August 19th, 2016

“One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush”  This quote by Marquis de Sade was, in part, the motivation for Rachel Kess to create her first wearable electronic work: a felted, blushing, animatronic mask called Snowman.  As an OCADU Fibre student within Material Art and Design,

Rachel was apprehensive at first of working with electronics.   Her “aha!” moment was when she figured out she could combine traditional felting techniques with soft circuitry.  Snowman’s nose is one large soft switch.  Embedded within layers of felt are particles of brass wool, evenly combed through wool to make reliable conductive pads.  Rachel pushed further with this technique and developed a series of gorgeous felted masks and puppets incorporating conductive felt, microcontrollers, servos, and leds.

Rachel’s work is performative.  This draws in part from her background in theatre as well as her experience as a yoga teacher and holistic health practitioner.  She is interested to continue working with animatronic and interactive masks –and performing them—because, as she states, they’re related: “Bodies are the one thing we all have in common.  What can happen when we start to experiment or play?”.

Goldsmith Ryan Taylor followed Rachel’s talk by discussing issues of ethics of mining and the resulting niche of “fair trade, fair mined gold” in goldsmithing.  He begins by asking a rhetorical question: “what is the cost of the object one is designing, and how do we start to   consider how much something costs in environmental terms and in social terms?”.  He spoke about the variety of influences that effect the economic, environmental and social costs of mining by exemplifying the Dodd Frank bill passed in the United States in 2010, which, in some substrate of the bill, pushes for accountability related to the mining of conflict minerals including gold.  This is expected to have effect on both the jewellery and electronics industry directly, as both are prime consumers of gold.

Following his breakdown of this act, Ryan gave a demonstration on melting pewter and casting a small sculptural object.  Group discussion ensued and example projects were shown by TWM regulars Loretta Faveri, Marisa Ranalli, and Eric Boyd.



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“One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush”  This quote by Marquis de Sade was, in part, the motivation for Rachel Kess to create her first wearable electronic work: a felted, blushing, animatronic mask called Snowman.  As an OCADU Fibre student within Material Art and Design,

Rachel was apprehensive at first of working with electronics.   Her “aha!” moment was when she figured out she could combine traditional felting techniques with soft circuitry.  Snowman’s nose is one large soft switch.  Embedded within layers of felt are particles of brass wool, evenly combed through wool to make reliable conductive pads.  Rachel pushed further with this technique and developed a series of gorgeous felted masks and puppets incorporating conductive felt, microcontrollers, servos, and leds.

Rachel’s work is performative.  This draws in part from her background in theatre as well as her experience as a yoga teacher and holistic health practitioner.  She is interested to continue working with animatronic and interactive masks –and performing them—because, as she states, they’re related: “Bodies are the one thing we all have in common.  What can happen when we start to experiment or play?”.

Goldsmith Ryan Taylor followed Rachel’s talk by discussing issues of ethics of mining and the resulting niche of “fair trade, fair mined gold” in goldsmithing.  He begins by asking a rhetorical question: “what is the cost of the object one is designing, and how do we start to   consider how much something costs in environmental terms and in social terms?”.  He spoke about the variety of influences that effect the economic, environmental and social costs of mining by exemplifying the Dodd Frank bill passed in the United States in 2010, which, in some substrate of the bill, pushes for accountability related to the mining of conflict minerals including gold.  This is expected to have effect on both the jewellery and electronics industry directly, as both are prime consumers of gold.

Following his breakdown of this act, Ryan gave a demonstration on melting pewter and casting a small sculptural object.  Group discussion ensued and example projects were shown by TWM regulars Loretta Faveri, Marisa Ranalli, and Eric Boyd.