Emma Wickham (left) get to grips with circuitry, under the supervision of Lighthouse Studio resident Coralie Gourguechon.
Emma Wickham (left) get to grips with circuitry, under the supervision of Lighthouse Studio resident Coralie Gourguechon.

Making connections.


17 September 2014

From electric shocks to enlightenment; Lighthouse's General Manager Emma Wickham takes part in a paper electronics workshop...

“You like crafty things and cutting-up don’t you?” said Lighthouse studio resident Coralie Gorguechon. “You should come to my paper electronics workshop!”

Happily skipping along to the workshop I thought, “Yes! Sticking things!” and then, “Oh crumbs…electronics.” The workshop table, covered in colourful crafty bits and pieces, was a welcoming sight. Coralie explained the elements available to us in making an electronic circuit; foil, sticky tape, magnetic tape, labels, stickers, glue dots, conductive paint and a trusty sheet of A4 paper. “I can handle this,” I thought. “These guys are my friends, and now I am going to make electricity with them!”

To get us started, Coralie showed some examples of simple circuits and some more advanced, really fancy-looking circuits. These were things of beauty – elegant, delicately crafted pieces all made from one sheet of carefully manipulated, cut and folded paper. I decided to get stuck in – bish-bash-bosh-stick. The skill in making a deftly-designed minimalist circuit quickly became clear as my circuit began to take on the likeness of a stubbed toe. Yet foil tape, scissors and a couple of LEDs later, my circuit was complete and on connecting a battery, the LED lit up a treat – yes! It also got quite hot when I touched it with my fingertip though, hmmm…I learned that I needed to make a break in the circuit with some conductive paint to keep the charge at bay.

After my short dose of electro-convulsive therapy I started to think about what was going on here. Electronics made from cheap, readily available odds and ends from your stationery drawer. Good-looking, well-designed, simple electronics that you can see, understand and probably have a go at mending. I felt I had been let in to a secret, that a mysterious thing had been demystified. I must say, it was all rather empowering. Although I’m not about to start unscrewing the back of my computer to tinker with the innards, I left fired-up with the possibilities of electronics.

Coralie has already made paper versions of speakers, radios and aerials to be shared online and it’s exciting to see the shift away from our throwaway culture to people being equipped with the skills to fix things and make even better versions.

I’ll let you know how I get on with my next paper circuit – I’m aiming to create something that will improve my life and be ingeniously made out of some scraps on my desk. Perhaps I’ll try to animate a piece of old Blu-Tack, Frankenstein-style, to finish my work for me, do a bit of filing and answer the phone?

In the meanwhile, you can follow Coralie’s explorations into the mapping of electronic functions, paper-based and flexible electronics, and the intersection of graphic, product and electronic design on her website


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