PC4 – Curious Making, Taking Fabrication Risks and Crafting Rewards

Lecturer: Janis Meißner
Fields: Design, Human Computer Interaction


This course is about getting hands-on curious with electronics and different crafts materials. Maker toolkits are a great way to get started with designing your own interactive sensor systems – but what if these designs could also integrate other (potentially more aesthetic) materials? E-textiles and paper circuits are good examples for how functional electronic systems can be recrafted with rewarding results. In principle, any every-day materials could be used with a bit of thinking outside the (tool)box. Let’s see what you will use to hack for your ideas!

Course Outline:

After a brief intro to microcontrollers and programming them with the Arduino IDE, participants will design their own simple input-output systems and gradually re-craft the hardware in innovative ways by using crafting materials such as for example paper, fabric and paperclips. Participants who seek a little extra-challenge are invited to work in small teams (2-4) to design an interactive artefact in this way that combines their respective research interests.

The course is structured as follows:

Session 1: Introduction to microcontrollers, off-the-shelf components and self-paced experimenting with the help of tutorials

Session 2: Designing an input-output system with off-the-shelf components. Starting to explore how ready-made components can be re-made with crafts materials.

Session 3-4: Recrafting your system design with craft materials of your choice. Don’t forget to present your inventions to your course mates so that everyone can applaud your creative hacking genius! 🙂


  • Learning the basics of programming electronics with microcontrollers
  • Learning the basics of how a selection of sensors and actuators work
  • Exploring alternative approaches to electronics than using o
  • Unleashing your creative hacking skills


Perner-Wilson, H., Buechley, L. & Satomi, M. (2011) ‘Handcrafting textile interfaces from a kit-of-no-parts’, in Proceedings of the fifth international conference on Tangible, embedded, and embodied interaction – TEI ’11. New York, USA: ACM Press. p. 61. https://doi.org/10.1145/1935701.1935715

Posch, I. & Fitzpatrick, G. (2018) Integrating Textile Materials with Electronic Making. Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction – TEI ’18. 158–165. https://doi.org/10.1145/3173225.3173255

Meissner, J.L., Strohmayer, A., Wright, P. & Fitzpatrick, G. (2018) ‘A Schnittmuster for Crafting Context-Sensitive Toolkits’, in Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’18. New York, New York, USA: ACM Press. https://doi.org/10.1145/3173574.3173725


Janis Lena Meißner

Janis Lena Meißner is a doctoral trainee in Digital Civics at Open Lab, Newcastle University, and co-founder of fempower.tech, a group of intersectional feminists who aim to raise awareness of feminist issues in Human Computer Interaction. As maker technologies give individuals an opportunity to develop their own objects and tools, Janis is interested in exploring ways that these technologies can empower different non-technical communities who lack access to infrastructures such as fablabs or makerspaces. In her research she has collaborated with groups as diverse as urban knitters, glass artists, quilting sex workers, makers with disabilities and members of a Men Shed interested in combining their woodworking skills with 3D-printing. Using a Participatory Action Research methodology and a portable makerspace for adapting tool(kit)s to the specific contexts of making, her aim is to develop a community-driven approach to Making that allows people to weave in pre-existing crafting skills into their use of digital maker technologies.

Affiliation: Newcastle University
Websites: https://fempower.tech/ https://openlab.ncl.ac.uk/people/janis-lena-meissner/ https://twitter.com/janislena