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Next Tinkering Social Club: Textiles, Geometry, and Sea Creatures

Next Tinkering Social Club: Textiles, Geometry, and Sea Creatures

Fouling Community

Fouling CommunityCreate a colony of fantastic sea creatures using fabric and simple sewing techniques! The Bay surrounding us is teeming with tiny creatures, and any object left in the water for a while will become a host for a colony of these beautiful and geometrically interesting critters. We’ll recreate one of these “fouling communities” and populate a model of the pier pilings with them!

Judy Castro has been researching and working with fabrics for many years and is fascinated by the way fabrics create beautiful shapes that are organic and fluid in nature and can resemble sea creatures. She studies how textiles can be formed and stretched to curve around a sphere, or twist and turn and then flare out in waves.

This project explores a wide range of textiles to find the desired creature shapes and determine the properties of different weaves—their strength and stress points, how they respond to pulling, and how the fiber layers slide over one another to create complex geometric shapes from a flat piece of material.

By manipulating the two crossing forces (the warp and the weft), positioning a pattern diagonally on a woven fabric, and working on the bias, the fabric stretches and creates complex three-dimensional curves that can be explained by hyperbolic geometry.

The cast of seven characters began taking shape this way and having a life of its own. Judy created basic patterns for all the critters but as in nature everything is unique and patterns change rapidly and soon new generations of critters will be made with their own small differences.

Fouling Community

A single stitch gives the bulging shape of a pregnant skeleton shrimp. A separate bias piece makes their thin arms.

The mussels are made from ballistic grade coated vinyl, with a single pleat at one end and two halves to create their distinctive shape.

Seaweed is made from a long rectangular piece of fabric. One edge is cut out and the other is gathered. The lightweight translucent chiffon gives the appearance of a string of leaves blowing in the wind.

The nudibranchs are made of fabric cut on the bias and gathered, or smooth fabric which can mimic their rippling behavior as they slide around. Their gills are made of long haired fake fur.

For the barnacles, a rough texture such as wool is cut into a circular shape or a doughnut, and then gathered at both edges to create a pleated dome.

Botryllus “star tunicate” colonies resemble a psychedelic carpet and are made of small gathered circles of velvet and tulle.

Bryozoans, a colony of fraying branches housing a community of encrusted bulging bellies, compose a rich landscape. They are made from a multi-layered fringe chiffon and sewn against the grain.

Fouling Community Fouling Community Fouling Community Fouling Community


TSC is happening Thursday, June 11, 7–9 pm.

Tinkering Social Club is possible through the generous support of Autodesk.

Adult-only evening hours are for 18+ only from 6-10pm on Thursday evenings; admission is $15 ($10 for members). Admission to Tinkering Social Club is at no additional cost.