Paper, Strings & Electronic things

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Paper and textiles are of the oldest, most resilient, and most cherished media. It's pretty simple stuff, yet they offer endless forms of inspiration and expression. You can print it, fold it, weave it, stitch it, dye it, and draw on it. But have you ever thought of the possibility of making circuits with it and running current through it? In this module you will learn how to create paper and textiles that speak, light up, and move with the help of electronic components.Textile and paper are as low-tech as it goes. Their invention dates back thousands of years, meaning that their properties have been thoroughly explored, but far from being exhausted. E-textiles and e-paper are emerging fields of research that is offering exciting possibilities to work technology into soft and tactile materials. While integrating things such as lights, sounds, or movement into 'old media' is not a new thing, the switches, sensors, processors and power supplies that drive these interactions are now becoming small enough to envision their everyday use. The technology will certainly become even smaller, and the potential for responsive printed or woven materials will become greater. This module is your starting point for you to explore some basic experiments with paper and strings, augmented by electronic things.


weekly schedule
Week Group What
36 Group 1 & 2 Intro: Conductivity
37 Group 1 Workshop 1: Connecting
38 Group 2 Workshop 1: Connecting
39 Group 1 Workshop 2: Sound
40 Group 2 Workshop 2: Sound
41 Group 1 Workshop 3: Arduino / start individual project
42 Group 2 Workshop 3: Arduino / start individual project
43 Group 1 & 2 Autumn Holiday
44 Group 1 Individual project
45 Group 2 Individual project
46 Group 1 & 2 Individual project presentations
  • The first five weeks are structured as 4 hour workshops focusing on either conductivity, touch/sensing or sound/actuation.
  • The last four weeks you will develop your own project. The schedule remains the same alternating structure but the hours and space are reserved to work on your project.
  • Week 46 is the final presentation of your project.

Short Bi-weekly workshop description

Introduction 1 (2h)

This workshop is all about resistance and conductivity. You will explore what materials can conduct electricity, are insulators or something in between.

Workshop 1 (4h)

Using paper and textiles to create circuits. Light LEDs, create a pop-up book etc. etc. You will also need the knowledge acquired during the first workshop.

Workshop 2 (4h)

How can you give your project a sense of the outside world. You will find ways to craft your own touch sensors using paper, textile and possibly other materials. You will also need the knowledge acquired during the first workshop.

Workshop 3 (4h)

Besides sensing the world, letting the world know how you feel is equally important. These 4 hours are for finding ways letting your projects actuate. Have a look at sound but perhaps motion as well.


Workshop 1: Resistivity & Conductivity (+/- 1 hour)

Resisitivity (and it's counterpart conductivity) is the property of a material to oppose (or support) the flow of electricity. If a material has high conductivity we usually call it a conductor. If, on the other hand, it has very high resistivity it is called an insulator.

The resistance of an object is dependent on the geometry of the object and the resistivity of the material it is made from.

resistance of an object

In this short introduction workshop you will explore the resistance and its counterpart conductance of different materials. Resistance will be very important during the next lessons as we will be using this property to construct for example soft touch buttons or bend sensors. It is important to get an idea of what it means for an object to have resistance and how to measure this. You will also see that although the resistivity of a material is constant (for a given temperature), the resistance of an object may be variable.

This resistance of an object is usually expressed mathematically as: Resistance formula.png

Here ρ is the resistivity of the material[1]
l is the length of the object
a is the cross sectional area
R stands for the resistance of the object. The unit of resistance is Ohms (Ω)

From this formula you can see that if the length of the object increases the resistance will increase as well (provided the area stays the same). On the other hand, if the area increase the resistance will decrease!. You can use these properties to create for example pressure or stretch sensors.


To measure the resistance of an object we can use the resistance (Ω) setting of a multimeter. Simply connect the red and black to either side of the object and read the value of the screen. Measure resistance.png The value you read is in Ohms ((Ω).

Another way is to connect an LED (Light Emitting Diode) and a battery. If the resistance is low the LED will light very bright (or burn out!), if the resistance is high it will be dim or not light up at all.


  • Find one or more materials and explore it's conductive and resistive properties.
  • Note your findings
  • Present your findings

The idea behind this assignment is that you get an idea of what the determines the resistance of an object and how it can change under certain conditions.

This is quite vital when working with circuits and materials like paper and textile. For example, paper and textile are both (mostly) flexible. Flexing a certain material can have some influence on it's resistive properties. If you understand this you can exploit this to make for example a bend sensor (we will see examples of this in one of the other workshops).

When exploring it's properties think about and measure what happens when you bend it, stretch, heat it, hit it with a hammer etc. etc.. Think about how you can use this in an actual application.

Present your findings to the rest of the group.

Workshop 2: Connecting (3-4 hours)

Workshop 3: Sound & Touch (3-4 hours)

paper speaker

Workshop 4: Arduino demo / individual project

individual project; rules of the game

  • create an electronic object out of paper and/or textiles
  • the object needs to be well crafted and functioning
  • the object needs to relate to your own craft / practice
  • you are able to explain the working of the object
  • you are able to defend your design choices
  • work in a group is allowed but each member will need to hand in a personal reflection on his/her work done.



  1. A list of the resitivity and conductivity (σ) of various materials can be found here: