Touching stitches. Lightning talk and poster presentation.

  • Lindy Richardson (Assessor)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesOral presentation


DDOI2019. organised by CAHSS Digital Scholarship

Touching stitches: Using technology to facilitate tactile access to collections for the blind

The Needlework Development scheme 3,500-piece collection was conceived as a teaching aid, 17th to 20 century embroidery samples loaned out to universities, colleges and schools specifically for the study of textiles through physical handling.
The 70-piece part of the collection gifted to Edinburgh College of Art has recently been re-housed in conservation grade handling mounts to enable safer access without touching the pieces. Accompanying detailed analytical descriptions of all items plus a website enable users to access information on pieces. ALL of this helps sighted users to understand the collection, however we have made NO provision for blind or visually impaired users to access the pieces. Handling was central to the aims and objectives of the founders of this scheme in 1934, however in order to preserve the textiles from further degradation we must ensure that physical touching and handling is kept to a minimum, thereby excluding users who understand objects through tactile interaction.
Using 3D scanning to capture 3-dimensional information on the samples. Transportable hand-held scanners and fixed chamber scanners in combination with CT scanning technology, are all contributing in developing appropriate files for printing. We are piloting 3D printed samples of the textiles as a method for handling the stitch information physically. In consultation with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), we are defining the most effective print media for additive printing and materials for reductive sculpting. In response to feedback from blind consultants we are exploring creating moulds from the 3D prints to cast samples using materials more sympathetic to the nature of yarn and cloth. The potential to share this data in the form of files for print holds rich possibilities for widening access and as a research tool.
Period29 May 2019
Degree of RecognitionLocal