The Jack-o-Light: a safe trick or treating experience

Happy Pre-Halloween! This piece was designed for promoting safe trick or treating for young children on Halloween night. When it gets dark, children are less visible and thus more prone to danger.

Design

User: young children trick or treating

Purpose: To make the children visible to cars on the streets, in order to keep them safe.

Once the sun goes down in a given region, the light will automatically switch on to increase visibility. The purpose of this investigation is to assess the feasibility of this concept.

The sketch shown above highlights the user and all of the components needed to make the bag. The user would bring this trick or treating basket around for people put candy in (socially distanced of course). The user can turn on the light by closing the clamp on the side of the bag to complete the circuit. This bag is also equipped with a strap and a drawstring closing mechanism to minimize candy spillage and maximize carrying ability.

Prototype

To prototype this piece, I used an old t-shirt because I had it on hand. Ideally, I would have used canvas because it is much sturdier and more weather resistant.

I cut out two identical(ish) rectangular pieces of fabric from the middle of the shirt. Then I took to sowing, I used my orange thread and did a simple run stitch back and forth to attach three sides. Then I turned my pouch inside out and a bag was born.To create the drawstring hole, I folded over the top of my bag and sowed a tube for my string to go through. I repurposed an old shoelace to create a string and used a needle to push weave it through the hole.

I did a similar process to create the strap, and I turned the tube inside out so it looked neater. I went with a singular strap that fit across my body so the child could slide the bag off and on easily. I fastened the strap to the bag with a running stitch and a variety of other stitches.

Next, I created the jack- o- lantern face. I used a plastic bag to make both the eyes and the mouth, but I would have liked to use something more sustainable. I wanted to be able to see the light through the material. I cut out two triangles and a spooky mouth for the face. I sowed these on with the stitches out because I wanted to add visual interest. To attach the plastic cut-outs to the bag, I used a simple running stitch. The plastic was difficult to work with because it bunched everywhere.

With a face on the bag, I moved to the circuitry. Using guides from the Adafruit website I attached my circuit to the bag and hit it with a flap so the candy wouldn’t disrupt the circuit.

Video

https://youtu.be/F6n0EHn7r0s

Evaluation and Analysis

In evaluating this prototype, I chose to assess usability. I tested my solution by dropping candy in the bag and seeing if the circuit be resilient enough to handle the force of candy. The circuit did not pass this test and was severely damaged within the first five pieces of candy dropped in the bag Additionally, the material also stretched out a lot after being worn and holding candy.

In order for this product to be usable the bag would need to be fortified in many ways. Using a canvas material would allow for minimal stretching and a stronger bag. Canvas would also allow the bag to be weather proof, nobody likes soggy candy. In addition the circuit would need to be fortified with stronger conductive thread, and covered with multiple layers of fabric to reduce the vulnerability of the circuitry. By separating the candy from the circuit, the bag would be strong and usable.

Reflection

I really enjoyed learning to sew this week. I felt like I actually learned a new tangible skill! If I had to do this process over, I would have tried to use a different fabric. I used an old t-shirt and it got the job done but I would have loved working with a sturdier fabric like canvas.

In the construction of the bag, I with I paid more attention to the placement of the strap. I created a drawstring bag, but with the drawstring and the strap are awkwardly placed in relation to each other.

I also hope to incorporate the clasp more into the design. With my current design the lights were triggered by the time of day. But also it would be cool to see if it could light up dependant on if the candy has an allergen in it, or based on the weight of candy. I am very interested in expanding on this idea!

Also, thanks for Kerri for challenging me to make something fun!