From timelab

About[edit source]

Braided ribbons[edit source]

An animated flyer for summercamp: Fiber Fever 23
Fiber Fever 23
A 3D-Printed braiding machine
Prototype: Braiding Machine

We use them every day. Braided ribbons, like ropes or shoelaces or the string of your hoodie, are the most ordinary objects. However, they have multiple associations, meanings, and functions. These objects collect historical, cultural, technical, social and systemic layers that make them the inspiration for our Fiber Fever Summercamp 2023.

15 participants with different backgrounds will focus on engineering, techniques, patterns, colours, movement/meaning and circular materials. They work in mixed groups on the multiple aspects of the braiding as elements of one collective outcome in the end.

They present their work to each other, their network, neighbors and friends at the end presentation and celebration on Wednesday August, 30 at 6 PM.

From August 20-30 the Timelab building will turn into the Fiber Fever playground. All participants, coaches and teachers work, sleep, eat, meet, play, explore and create in Timelab.

We gather every day from 9 until as long as it takes. The crew and teachers support the working groups and meet daily at 11 to check in on the collective process. All participants commit to a daily meeting at 12, just before lunch. Visitors are welcome to meet us for lunch and/or contribute to the process.

Before the camp a copy of the open-source braiding machine was created:

Partners[edit source]

Timelab Team[edit source]

Participants[edit source]

Wilson Oluoha

Yssmin Bayoumi

Design Academy Eindhoven

Teresa Carvalheira

Julija Česnulaitytė

Agatha Prieto Jeanty


Lou Cruard

Magdalena Sophie Orland

Antonella Valerio

Annelies Clerix

VUB (Vrije Universeteit Brussel)

Kaan Kaftar

Shubham Selleri

Louis Pauwels

Maximilian Ernestus

Lieven Standaert

UGENT (Universiteit Gent)

Rosan Pille

Design Challenges[edit source]

Colour, shape and material define the appearance of a braid. However, they intertwine, and we cannot really separate them. We decided to use these features to name the categories for the design challenges for Fiber Fever Summercamp 2023.

Challenge 1 : Colours and patterns[edit source]

The position of the colours on the bobbins defines the patterns of a braid. Think, for example, how shoe laces have beautiful colour patterns. On boats, for instance, the colours and patterns are also functional: they help you not to pull the wrong rope, which could be very dangerous if you were to do so. Why do most irons have a black-and-white pattern on the braided electrical cord? If you choose this challenge, you want to question the use of patterns and colours and in braiding. You want to experiment beyond the usual patterning. Maybe you want to design your own yarns to affect the colour of the braid. Can you adapt the techniques to influence patterns or colours?

Challenge 2: Shape[edit source]

Braided ropes or ribbons are known to have a regular shape, round or flat, metres and metres of the same thing. As ribbons are mostly known as functional items, they are required to be stable in their shape and quality. The rope for climbing must be elastic to absorb shock and therefore cannot be used to hold the mainsail of a boat. Merely altering the tension of the yarns produces Tic Tac ribbons. The core of a rope is called the “soul”. What if you play with its soul? Make it rigid, flexible, or irregular? What else could we use as the soul of the braid? What can you do with hollow or flat braids? What about the effect orof changing the tension of the braid to the possible application?

Challenge 3: Material[edit source]

Machines can braid wire, yarns or carbon fibres. There is an endless variation in braids of long hair. Plant stems can grow in the shape of a braid. There is a lot more to discover in terms of materials for braiding. As discarded textiles overwhelm us, is it possible to transform them into a base material? If you are keen on bio-based materials and circular industrial streams, this might be your challenge. What are suitable materials for braiding? What does suitable mean? Would you rather look for a fitting waste stream to adapt to the existing machines, or rather look to adapt the technology to reused material?

Projects[edit source]

Intertwined[edit source]

Spinning flax into linen, together

In search for balance between modern and traditional ways of craft performing, we find answers in togetherness. How can a yarn tell a story of belonging and how can it be spun in a collective performance of a traditional craft? During this research we look for ways of interdependence between actors of craft performance. We wonder if a tool can become a facilitator of such action, requiring communal participation instead of individual efficiency.
Participants: Teresa Carvalheira, Julija Česnulaitytė

Project Page: Intertwined

Abitino[edit source]


Inspired by the tradition of wear protection objects in different human cultures, Abitino is a research project that questions the relationship we have with the objects and the meaning they have in our life. Playing with shape and scale, how can we braid a void shape or fill it with objects we have a connection with.

Participants: Antonella Valerio, Agatha Prieto Jeanty

Project Page: Abitino

The Colored Thread[edit source]

The Colored Thread

The colored Thread is about how color facilitate insight into different braiding techniques. Defined parameters that are executed in a structured way form the basis for the research process.

Participants: Magdalena Sophie Orland, Annelies Clerix, Rosan Pille

Project Page: The Colored Thread

Jacquard Braiding Machine[edit source]

Jacquard Braiding Machine

With traditional braiding machines, the braiding track is determined mechanically and fixed to a single configuration. What kind of machine could allow constant reconfiguration and experimentation with the movement of the spools? With Jacquard Braiding machine an out-of-use 3D-printer is reconfigured to create a platform for free experimentation.

Participants: Lou Cruard, Maximilian Ernestus, Jesse Howard, Lieven Standaert

Project Page: Jacquard Braiding Machine

Historical Context: A Brief History of Machine Braiding[edit source]

Maypole Braiding[edit source]

The first, though very vague account of a braiding machine appears in an English patent applied for in 1748. Shortly after, in 1767, a perfectly functioning machine was demonstrated in Barmen,Wuppertal, Germany, and out of this developed a flourishing industry in that part of Germany.The machine was altered and modified by the frenchman Perrault, he introduced it in Saint-Etienne near Lyon, which became another braiding center. [1]

The name maypole braider, was given after the resemblance with the maypole dancers, where all dancers hold a ribbon and braid around a maypole. When you look at movement of the dancers and at the carriers of a Maypole braiding machine, be it antique or a contemporary hi-tech carbon braider, the basic movement is still the same.

Originally these maypole braiding machines were making strings for military decoration, laces to close garments and secure undergarments, This was a time when zippers and snaps did not exist and buttons were very expensive. By the end of the 19th century , the maypole braiders knew a steep development because of the big demand for braided electric wires. Manufacturing plants were numerous all over Europe and the US. [2]

Other Historical European Braiding Tools[edit source]

The custom of using human hair for decorative purposes became fashionable towards the end of the 18th century, it flourished throughout the 19th century and declined during the first decades of the 20th century. The hair most often belonged to a beloved relation, living or dead, it is obvious that this tradition had its roots in old superstitions. There were 2 categories.In the first, hair was worked into decorative objects, framed or covered by a glass case. In the second category, where we find records of special tools and machines, braids were worked with hair and made up as bracelets, necklaces, rings ,watch-chains and other accessories. Hairdressers, urged to find a substitute for the declining job of wig making, were chiefly doing such work. This illustration from the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert shows braiding hair workers: a woman working on the “boisseau”, fastened with a belt around the waist. She braids, not like with bobbin lace, towards her, but away from her.The boisseau looks quite similar to a lace work cushion. The man braids downwards over a core, the growing braid is drawn upwards.[3]

Japanese Braiding Tools and Machines[edit source]

Kumihimo are braided silk cords that have been made for over fourteen hundred years in Japan. Based on techniques introduced to Japan from the Asian continent in the sixth century, these cords evolved in Japan in complexity, color and style as they were incorporated into increasing areas of Japanese life. Initially used as decorative ties in the costumes and furnishings of the Imperial court and as detailing for religious shrines and equipment, the cords became integral elements of the arms and armor of the warrior classes and later decorative accessories for kimono.

Below you find the most common Japanese manual braiding tools.

Taka-dai The Taka-dai is a high frame for sitting, where most frames are for kneeling. The takadai makes obliquely interlaced [1] on two or four arms. [4]

Maru-dai Maru means round, dai means stand. The Marudai is a round-top braiding stand used to make a wide variety of kumihimo braids in many different forms: round, square, rectangular, flat, triangular, and other polygonal shapes. The braid is made downwards.It is considered the most versatile of the 5 basic types of kumihimo braiding stands, or dai. The traditional, or Japanese-style, marudai is 40cm – 50cm (16″-20″) tall. It is designed to be used in a kneeling position on tatami mats; it may also be placed on a stand or table top. [5]

A maru-dai Japanese braiding machine

Kakku-Dai Kakku means square, dai means stand. The kakudai is a square stand, as its name implies. The braid is formed upward and each bundle of thread is twisted, resulting in a tight braid with round edges.

A kakku-dai Japanese braiding machine.

Naiki-Dai The word Naiki refers to a special rank in the Samurai class. The dai here again means stand The Naiki-dai is a semi-automatic braiding machine.The origins of this very strange machine are veiled in secrecy so it is hard to establish the period of its origin. The machine was created and produced by the textile artisans themselves, fearing the effects of industrial revolution they tried to compete in their own way with the imported goods and machines. According to Frieda Sorber, who helped Naomie Speise to write the Manual of Braiding, this machine was an attempt from the Japanese to copy the western maypole braiders. Anyhow, you will have the opportunity to discuss the matter with Frieda Sorber herself, who will be attending us on sunday. There is an extensive description of the Naiki-dai in the Manual of Braiding written by Naomie Speiser.[6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

A close-up of a naiki-dai Japanese braiding machine

A naiki-dai Japanese braiding machine