The Crafting Sound Lab (CSL), a TIMARA undergraduate research lab directed by TIMARA Technical Director Abby Aresty, kicked off the spring semester with several projects in full swing. During the first several weeks of the semester, members met weekly to learn about electronic textiles and craft-based synthesizers and to fabricate 20 custom synth kits to ship to Germany to participate in an international e-textile swatch book exchange. These “Orange Synthesizers” are one of several custom craft-based synthesizers developed by TIMARA alum Rachel Gibson (’20), Aresty, and CSL members for a remote iteration of the Girls Electronic Arts Retreat, a summer camp for 3-5th grade girls, first launched by Aresty in 2019. Gibson and Aresty have a forthcoming full paper on the camp in the proceedings of the international New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference being held in Shanghai and virtually this summer, 2021.

Crafting Sound Lab students at work

With the Orange Synths on their way to Germany, the lab has turned its attention back to the Gratitude Showers Challenge, a community-built sound installation thanking hospital workers for their work and personal sacrifices during the Covid-19 pandemic. The installation grew out of Aresty’s spring Sonic Arts in Society spring 2020 course that had to transition to a fully remote class mid-semester. Aresty’s students had been visiting a local hospital to collect words of gratitude before the pandemic; once the pandemic hit the U.S., outreach events became virtual. In particular, students visited a virtual children’s choir to collect gratitude drops and CSL members created a virtual animation featuring the drops. We are finally assembling the umbrellas in preparation for deploying the full physical exhibit at the local hospital. 

Several other projects are simultaneously underway. In particular, keep an eye out for the Crafting Change Symposiumthis spring, which will feature over 30 innovative artists and educators exploring the intersection of craft, creativity, and learning.