Plug Into the Charged World of Electronic Textiles
Petal Pusher is the latest in a series of interactive light and textile installations created by Seattle-based artist Maggie Orth. For this series, each pattern is embroidered on wool felt and then hand-tufted with electronic yarn. It's these yarns that hold the key to the inner workings of the fixture: When the users touch these tufted areas of the pattern, the whole structure becomes illuminated from behind, sending a warm glow throughout the unit. There are four different light levels in forty-nine different variations on the same theme, available in limited editions of twelve.
Maggie Orth breaks down the fine human mechanism as "a big bag of electrically conductive salt water," and touching the sensors in the pattern allows the electrical charge to flow from the metal fibers of the yarn, through the body and to the ground. The circuitry of the lighting senses this change in the charge and varies the degree of light accordingly.
Ms. Orth's extensive portfolio is home to such work as the Pom Pom and Essential dimmer switches -- basically the same idea but working off of a different lighting structure. She also has an array of other nifty projects under her belt, some of which are available through her online enterprise International Fashion Machines .
In 2007 she was awarded the prestigious Target Fellows award, of which only fifty national artists receive. Currently, her work is on display at commercial art gallery Macleod Residence in Seattle Washington.