Textile Modeling and Implementation

Design Concepts

  1. Staked Design Methods/Non-traditional Materials - Armatures created by staking together non-traditional sculpture materials. Example materials include green sticks or lumber. Could also include cable/rope.
  2. Rigid vs. Flexible. How does the skin interact with the armature?
  3. Import physical designs into computer aided design software to produce textile coverings. (Could these also be structural elements?)

Challenges (Running Tally)

  1. Can students digitize models? Unclear.
    1. Test with student.
    2. Would software support help?
    3. Talk with Luke. How long was his course?
  2. Can students cut patterns with laser cutter? Yes.
    1. Yes, we managed this last semester.
    2. Create better laser sign-up expectations.
  3. Can students sew pieces with sewing machine?
    1. Probably? But how much training.
    2. Look online for sewing machine training.
  4. Can I make a self-supporting 3-D form from fabric and sticks? Yes.
    1. Tetrahedron from sticks and muslin worked great.
  5. Can I make curved faces and edges? Yes.
    1. Concave faces achievable in the hyperbolic tetrahedron model and the Ikea Chair Tent.
    2. Convex edges achieved with Irrigation pipe. Pipe made a great flexible edge support for the dome tent.
  6. Are we interested in non-solid body wrapping uses of the fabric (e.g. Space Ship)?
    1. Speak with Joe.

Design Iterations

I tried a variety of materials: bamboo sticks and muslin, Bamboo/Boards/Muslin. Next I want to try a more flexible material.


I modeled the designs using Autodesk Fusion 360, unwrapped the fabric faces of 3-D forms using Autodesk Meshmixer, and cut the muslin using our Makerspace Laser cutter.

Material: Bamboo Sticks and Muslin

Triangular Pyramid (Regular Tetrahedron)

Status: Made and done.
+ Stood up on it’s own
+ Corners formed pockets for the sticks
– Getting stacks into place was finicky
– Only flat faces are possible with sticks supporting each edge

Hyperbolic Pyramid

Status: Made but didn’t close the bottom face.
+ Peak formed pocket for the sticks
+ obtained curved edges
– Getting stacks into place was finicky
– Only have 1-D curve on faces

Three-way Hyperbolic Pyramid Intersection

Status: cut out pattern but need to make the base plate.
+ Interesting form from several angles without many panels
– Couldn’t figure out how to make the sticks align without a base plate

Elliptical Vase

Status: Postponed until bendable materials obtained, could also be implemented with two hardboard sheets.
+ Simple implementation of a 1-dimensional curve that is easily unwrapped into a sheet of fabric.
– elliptical edge at the top face and round edge on bottom face not easily supported with bamboo sticks

Overall “Stick and Muslin” Impressions

+ Materials cheap (muslin was $1.20 per 50″ yd., bamboo sticks at garden center $0.20)
– Fabric to stick connections are finicky and affect surface shape
– Difficult to create convex textile faces that aren’t fully supported by armature

Bamboo Sticks + Hardboard + Muslin

“About to Break” Wave

Initially tried to design this as a “stick-only” design but the connections between the sticks and the fabric were too frail. Worked well once I added cardboard.
+ Stood up really well with plate
– Wish I could create a more curling form (can’t make a convex shape).
– Wish I could make the leading edge more interesting.

Dome Section

Status: Unwrapped in software but not laser cut. Bamboo sticks don’t bend well enough. I would like to try the design again with very stretchy sticks. Would like to cut to allay concerns about two-dimensional curvature in the round face.


1-inch irrigation tubing forms the “tent poles” supporting the top faces.

“Space Ship?”

Status: Sewn but not totally finished. Had issues with the poles not fitting into place. I mis-cut one of the panels, probably caused the issue. I resolve this by wiring the poles together instead of using the board. I want to try nicely finished seams on this one.  (Will update when I finish the seams).

+ This thing is pretty big! Each pole is 46 inches long.
+ Uses a lot less fabric than a wrapped form but still has mass.
– Not much to look at. Definitely needs some color!


Potbelly Double Diamond

Status: Sewn but not totally finished at the top two seams.
– Wrapped form used a lot of fabric.
– Not much to look at. Definitely needs some color!






Folded Altar



Hanging Flower



Hexagon Medalion



Layered Tree






Fountain Stand



Material: Found Objects as Armature

With the found objects I wanted to try digitally modeling found objects and then using lessons learned from the stick-based armatures to re-shape the objects.

Ikea “Grund” Folding Chair

Status: Cut out the fabric and partially sewn but made a scaling error (it doesn’t fit).
Lessons learned: Double check measurement on object in Illustrator.
+ Interesting design challenge to hide the form
+ Standardized armature that is easily obtainable
– Creating the chair model is harder than a more simple block-and-pole construction.

Re-draw as a table: Design Name/Photo, Material, Status

Lessons Learned:

  • Double-check scaling in Illustrator right before Lasering.

Next Steps:

  • Challenges:
    • What would a small scale starter project look like.
    • Are materials costs reasonable?
    • Evolve process to make strong
  • Rather than creating wrapped forms, try creating flat forms.
  • Gravity influenced forms.
  • More “bendy” stick materials
  • Shrink Wrap might be a fun alternative to fabric.
  • Work larger.

Inspiration Gallery:


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