Personal sized Projects

What next?

Now that I finished drying out the second round of kombucha fabric, I’ve started thinking about what to make with it. I want to end up with a light display-what form that takes is still TBD. Much like rice paper, the dried fabric is translucent and bendable. It also has a tough quality, similar to leather, that allows it to be stretched and manipulated. 

I’ll attempt dye first since I’ve had a packet of indigo sitting around forever. But after doing some research, I realized I shouldn’t limit myself to that alone. There are people doing all sorts of stuff with it. I could embellish, cut, sew, or print. Take a look at the contrast of this rust-printed fabric. The possibilities!

Kombucha Fabric Experiment: The Harvest

Here are some photos of the harvest from a few weeks ago.

It took no time for them to dry on the deck. One of them had a lot of variation in thickness probably due to the shape of the original scoby. I changed a few things in the next batch to try to remedy this. Not that I don’t want wrinkled fabric. The texture reminds me of tough elbow skin or alligator hide. The other one took up the texture of the window screen with small grid marks.

The next batch is brewing outside now. We’ve had a series of 100 degree days so things are happening fast. I’ll post an update soon.

Kombucha fabric experiment: day 19

kombucha fabricI checked in on the kombucha growth today. It’s like opening a slimy present.

It’s at about 1/4″ inch thickness now. I want to get it to about 1/2″ before I hose off and dry it.

The insides of the tubs are covered in condensation. I guess I should drill more holes or cover them with cloth instead to let them breathe.

The new SCOBY is growing around the original, circular one. I’m not sure I like or dislike this yet and I’m not sure how to avoid it. Add more tea to the brew??

SCOBY close-up

We’ve had a few hot stretches of 90°+ days so far this summer but last week was rainy and cool and probably slowed down the brew. I’ll dump in more sweet tea and stick them outside to bake in the next heat wave.

ACT-W Portland

Back in May, I attended the ACT-W conference. It stands for a Conference to Advance the Careers of Tech Women, which “supports, empowers, and educates women in technology while creating a sense of belonging and community.” True to its mission, ACT-W is by far the most inclusive conference I’ve attended.

It’s no secret that gender bias exist in the tech industry. There has been a host of media attention paid to the topic within the last few years. I can relate my own anecdotal experience where I was compensated less for the same role, put on “busy” type work, and been the recipient of offhand comments like, “you don’t look like a developer”. Combined, over time this type of treatment slowly wears spirits down. It’s easy to see why many women abandon the field.

That’s why ACT-W is so important, particularly here in Portland where it’s supposedly the worst place in the US for women in tech. Meeting other women in the industry and hearing their experiences inspires me to keep at it. If nothing else it was nice being around others that can relate to the problems with the so called brogrammer work culture (ugh, just that typing that word makes me cringe). I’ve attended twice and come back from it feeling renewed and hopeful both times.

The highlight for me this year was an Arduino LED lantern workshop. We soldered RGB LED lights to an Adafruit trinket board and customized the bulb display through a bit of Arduino code. It was my first time working with a soldering iron and was a little nervous about screwing up. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. It was a nice change of pace to make something for the physical world versus a web application.

Here’s my light cycle in action:

If you’re a woman in tech or considering a STEM career, check out ACT-W in your city. You won’t regret it.