The future of craft in a digital age: Re-Master by Sabina Weiss

Craft is evolving along with the digital world in terms of the way professional makers design products and pass on skills. Last month, I attended a Re-Master workshop hosted by Makerversity at Somerset House. Re-Master is a collaborative learning system where makers of all levels can create an embroidered textile sample without first learning extensive textile processes. Interaction designer Sabina Weiss collaborated with IT engineer Tom Hartley to create the software behind Re-Master, which teaches eager makers how to hand embroider. As a part-time textile maker, I prefer to hand embroider than use a machine as it gives me more control, so I was interested to see how Re-Master could break this barrier that I have with digital machinery.

At the workshop I learnt how the off-screen sketch-to-embroidery interface creates an immediate, tactile response to your handmade input (a drawing or sketch), turning it into digital embroidery without the need to learn software or draw the design in vectors. The design is captured using computer vision, then vectorised and converted into digital embroidery output. This new system provides makers with the opportunity to transfer handcraft knowledge without the presence of a craft master. This style of learning style is enhanced by adding an interactive quality as well as increasing the rate at which complexity in craft skill can be captured.

Craft is associated with physical handwork that often consumes many hours of work, and I am a strong believer in practice makes perfect. Within design, the craft and digital fabrication industries are increasingly collaborating to create innovative design and new methods of production, and Re-Master is a shining example. Living in a digital world, it is rewarding to have had the experience to create new embroidered textiles using traditional and innovative technology combined. Re-Master encourages makers of all levels to try something new and not limit themselves to one textile discipline, and could change the way makers execute their work in the future.

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