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Bits & Boobs by Anna

Title: Bits & Boobs
Credits: Anna Blumenkranz
Year of Invention: 2017

Description: A potentiometer inspired by burlesque nipple pasties and bra designs. The swinging conductive tassel in the middle of the pasties acts as a wiper, resistive Velostat immitates the bra form. Connect it to a lilypad and a speaker, and you will hear audio-output changing with the position of the tassel. This swatch is a part of an ongoing investigation into female body in connection with wearables and e-textiles. Unlike outerwear for men, designing interactive elements for female body can be quite tricky, as it involves taboos, awkwardness or inconvenience, for example when it comes to integrating electronics into the front of a t-shirt. Turning to burlesque and exposing the uncomfortable interaction, I want to explore the  relationship between the „clean“ and „cold“ technology and the „warm“ body as a cultural construct.

Electronics and materials:
Fabric potentiometers and tilt potentiometer by Hannah Perner-Wilson
Soft Synth by Lara Grant
DJ-ToGo by me

Swinging element: Beaded tilt sensor 2013 swatches by Hannah Perner-Wilson

Guilia Tomasello’s Future Flora project
Sally Hewett’s anatomic embroidery

Materials: Karl Grimm conductive thread, Velostat, (optional: non-conductive bead), neoprene, sequin border, sewing thread, mixed fabrics (organza & bonding)

Techniques: hand-sewing, tassel making, sequin gluing

Dimensions (in cm): 14.5 x 14.5 x 0,5

Schematics & Circuit Diagrams:

How a rotary potentiometer works:


Circuit: hook it up to a Lilypad and a speaker, upload the code below. Then swing the tassel and hear how the sound changes.
(not included in the swatch: Lilypad, 8 Ohm speaker, connectors e.g. crocodile clips)


Arduino Code:
int vinylValue; //Input: reading the value of the pot
int vinylSound; // Output: sound

int vinylPin = A4;
int speakerPin = 9;

void setup() {
// initialise serial communication (to read the values of the sensor)

pinMode (vinylPin, INPUT);
pinMode (speakerPin, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite (vinylPin, HIGH);
digitalWrite (speakerPin, HIGH);


void loop() {
//read sensor values and save in a new variable
vinylValue = analogRead(vinylPin);

// show reading from the sensor in the serial monitor

//translate the span of sensor values into the span of played sound
vinylSound = map(vinylValue, 100, 900, 50, 1500);

// play sound (with duration in ms)
tone(speakerPin, vinylValue, 10);
// Pause after each note in ms

Swatch in action:

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Collect your materials (above) & tools:
    – scissors
    – compass
    – ruler and pencil
    – hot glue gun and pad
    – piece of cardboard
    – iron and ironing board
    – needles and pins
  2. Iron the bonding to organza. This will stiffen it and hold it together for hand sewing later. Cut out your swatch and peel off the paper.
    20170705_090921_35069117683_o 20170705_100542_35837794776_o 20170705_100440_35709183032_o
  3. Take a sheet of velostat and a compass and draw a circle with a radius of 6cm and another one with a radius of 4cm. Mark a vertical radius and draw symmetrical “tails”, to achieve a moon shape. Cut it out.
  4. Attach your “moon bra” to organza with a couple of pins and sew it carefully along the border.
    20170704_131017_35069163313_o 20170704_131438_35039157974_o 20170704_132242_35709230352_o
  5. Take a piece of neopren and a compass and draw a circle with a radius of 1,5cm. Cut it out.
  6. Take a hot glue gun and cover the border of the neopren circle with glue. Place sequin border on top of the glue and gently press it down with tweezers. Try not to burn your finger tips. Repeat everything, working in a spiral, all the way to the middle, until neopren circle is completely covered with sequins.
    20170704_135522_35069145493_o 20170704_135452_35878300655_o  20170706_131657_35709142652_o 20170706_145951_35490518360_o
  7. Place the nipple pastie in the middle of the velostat moon and sew it to organza from the back. Make sure to stitch solely through neopren, without damaging the sequins.
  8. Take conductive thread and wind it around a piece of cardboard (ca. 3cm wide), until you have a thick layer of thread. Carefully pull it down and wind the thread across the upper part to form a tussle head. Secure it with a couple of knots around the head. Take scissors and cut through the loop to form fluffy ends.
    20170704_141420_35709218202_o 20170704_141516_35747016601_o 20170704_141713_35709208742_o 20170704_141743_35709194452_o
  9. Attach your tussle to the swatch by punching the needle carefully through the middle of the nipple pastie. Make sure that the hanging is long enough for your tassel to reach both upper corners of the velostat. Carefully stitch all the way up from the middle of the neopren to the top of the swatch, secure the thread with a knot and cut it of, leaving a couple of centimeters to allow a crocodile clip connection for later.
  10. Take conductive thread and stitch across the ends of the velostat moon. Leave thread connections for crocodile clips.
  11. Hook up your boob swatch with a lilypad according to the circuit diagram above, upload the code and play it!


Further explorations into soft pots:
3.4._-37 3.4._-40 47_Tonarm_taeschchen2 48_Beutelklammer_vorn 39_Potentiometer

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