Tuesday, October 28, 2014

JJ 100 'Dirt Nap Gaucho'

Good Ole' Atomic Number 15.  For those who love science you have to appreciate an element that makes things glow; Phosphor.  Add some super basic electrical concepts to it and whala, you have ElWire in all it's fragile glory.

Ive used El before but in very small projects and always on something somewhat stationary.  Add to the confusion and problems of not just wearable electronics but stretchy fabric that you intend to be very active in over a consistently long period of time.  The intelligent short attention span person would smartly step away.. Uhmm, maybe run away from such a task.  At least you would if everything had to be done by hand and you had zero helper hands.  Somehow in my alternate reality state (think, Steve Jobs) I could only envision how super awesome it would be and what kind of reception it would get from others if I could pull it off.

In comes my vision of what you already saw in my first post, the painting of running tights and top to try and make a "Day of the Dead" themed costume.  The painting came out fine and to make it even cooler I layered all the bone structure with a glow in the dark textile paint.  The effect of that is way better than I had expected.  I just finished the running top with the wiring and what a pain in the ass it was to figure out how to make El work with stretchable fabrics.  After trying a couple of different things I finally landed on what I think is an excellent solution.  I sliced tiny 1/4" segments of a 3/8 clear pond pump vinyl tubing.  Let me back-up, sewing El straight to fabric was just fine until I tried to put on the tights and "stretched" all the stitches out and broke some El connections in the process.  I needed a free floating solution while still trying to outline the bones.  Originally I wanted to outline the full bone on each body part but later determined one line of El is plenty due to cost and time constraints.  For those who've used El before you can appreciate that I had to strip, find, solder, sand, and connect more than 85 segments of El for just a mere 29ft of wire.

Picture on right better explains my method.  Best part is it not only can account for the stretch of the fabric without putting strain on the delicate El Wire but as segments break I can just cut it out and re-insert a new piece without having to sew :) YAY because my fingers are trashed from all the needle threading and trying to strip and solder all those dam angel hair connectors around the copper wire.

Just the top of shirt took about 22 hours of labor and thankfully the pants will be so so much easier as they have only 1/8 of the connections.  To help keep the wires in place a bit I just used a dab of hot glue for a spot-weld, works GREAT.  Though most of the costume is still yet to be finished (and I only have about six hours to do it) I consider the short to be by far the most difficulty and pain staking, but it came out so well I'm confident the rest will come together with ease.. even if I just have to slap it all together with safety pins.

I have gone through running motions with wire attached and did have to make a change to where the joints are.  For those areas I used 26gauge stranded wire for it's very nice flexibility and to prevent any "breaks" in the phosphor coating.  I'm pretty confident everything will hold up relatively well and best case scenario is I'll try to wear this for 55 or more of my 100 consecutive miles being run.  I'll get some video posted to better show the "Tron" aspects my self proclaimed "Dirt Nap Gaucho" costume, but here's a couple pics with lights on and off.  BTW - get it.. Dirt Nap as in Dead, as in Muertos.  Gaucho because I should have some hand sewn accoutrement's to depict the old style of Spanish Cowboy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Javelina Jundred and Day of the Dead

Coming up rather too quickly for me will be my second running of the JJ100 in Arizona.  This is a really terrific race with super support and and a fun vibe that represents what Trail Running should be.  I felt like everyone out their was just having fun and do the best they can.

It's also a bit of a costume contest being that it fall on Halloween weekend.  What's really cool are all the awards are in the "Dia de los muertos" theme.  It sounds crazy but last year I also decided to run the race for fun and participated in costume.  Seeing as I traditionally don't take the easy route I decided to make a costume to suit my tastes and creative freedom.  Several of my friends who were running also decided to costume-up.  We decided on the group theme of super heroes and villains, i went as the Riddler and gave my costume it's own flair with a touch of home made silkscreen and some remnants of el wire.  It was not only a thrill that the costume actually came out good but I also won the costume contest and brought home a slick hand made trophy.

This year I've decided to try and notch one up on the costume.  Again I could not find a costume or pieces of what I wanted to suit my themed goal... so once again, I'm making it from scratch.  After a couple of visits to the fabric stores and a few of my favorite online Maker sites I've got all the pieces.  The critical part and lesson learned (the hard way) last year was NOT to make the costume one piece, as it was a real pain in the ass to disrobe every time I had to pee.  This year, 2 pieces!  I picked up a cheap running top and using some old running tights that have been sitting around for years I have the basis for a skeletal print.  You would be surprised that nobody sells a front and back print of a skeleton outfit.  Not to worry as a little research and proper fabric paint will yield exactly what I'm looking for.  I may not be the best artist in this medium but I'm proud of it being home made, and not only that, once it's all put together it will certainly have some 'Wow' factor... 'course that's assuming the vision in my head can be physically reproduced even part way.  We'll know in a couple of weeks.

My biggest concern is that I want to keep as authentic as I can since this particular outfit I'm creating could be construed slightly controversial amongst cultural beliefs.  True celebrations of Day of the Dead are held passionately with the people that take part in the tradition.  It's a celebration of the lives that were lived by ancestors.  Since the race actually begins on the first day (of the two day) celebration I wanted to honor the day in my own way.  It's with hope that it does not offend as I'm not trying to take away from the heritage of this day, nor poke fun at it.  Personally I think it's a wonderful way to deal with lost ones and revisit and honor the great lives they hopefully lived.  My twist is to take a sort of Caballero style and give it some modern day electronics seeing as I'll be using it mostly at night in the middle of the dessert while I'm all alone.

Here is a bit of progress so far:

Painting is completed and now begins the testing of the el wire and lots of fragile soldering and sewing.