Plush Jack Night Light

This week I built the a fabric “jack,” a piece of the ancient game, Jacks.

FINAL

Jacks are usually played with a bouncing ball, so I placed an LED into Catherine’s light diffusing sphere and styled it with the plushie for the photograph

Since this toy is about 13″ across, you may not necessarily play jacks with it.  Instead, it may serve as a piece of home decor, evoking some nostalgia among those old enough to have played games like this.  The silk faille fabric, a textile commonly used in eveningwear, creates a luxurious look and hand-feel that makes this item worthy of display when the LEDs are not turned on.

The spokes on this plushie are five different colors – white, blue, red, green, and yellow.  Because this object is inspired by an object that is meant to be tossed, I’ve included this element in one of its intended uses.  When the user is feeling indecisive between multiple options, they can toss this toy and base their decision on the color it lands on.  This adds a playfully interactive element to an otherwise grown-up plushie.

Process

Drafting the paper pattern was a daunting task because I knew that the curves at the intersections between cylinder would require sophisticated math to determine.  I researched how to do this using trigonometry and considered doing this by hand for a split second, but quickly turned to my classmates with industrial design backgrounds for tips on doing this digitally.   As I was speaking to a classmate, the amazing Oya from VFL happened to be nearby and informed me of a piece of software (Pepakura) that would turn a 3D model into a paper layout.  Even though I had no experience making a 3D model, she let me know that I could use TinkerCad to easily create the file myself.   I was pleased to find out that it was a piece of cake!

IMG_2182Making my first 3D sketch on TinkerCad!

When I imported this file to Pepakura, I had a bit of difficulty because there were some duplicated vertices and other errors that caused the paper pattern to be split at many unnecessary points.  After some troubleshooting, I went analog and taped the printed pieces together to finalize the paper pattern.

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Paper pattern for each spoke.  Each spoke is identical, so I cut each pattern 6 times from the fabric

Sewing this was tricky!  Sewing circles and cylinders are especially tricky because the entire seam is on the bias.  It required a lot of pinning, checking, and undoing seams to get this right.  Applying a preliminary stay stitch on each piece before joining the seams prevented stretching from the bias edge to cause problems.

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Making sure the circular face of the cylinder attaches evenly

After hours of painstaking sewing and ironing, I was ready to build the internals.

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My circuit includes 6 10mm diffused LEDs of assorted colors, 100 Ohm resistors for each LED, and a 4.5V battery pack.  The LEDs are connected in parallel, with each LED at the end of each spoke.

Circuit Diagram

The LEDs created hotspots without diffusers, so I inserted them in ping pong balls and threaded the LEDs and wires for each spoke in a milky white polyethylene tubing to add rigidity.

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Almost all of the ping pong balls have been glued to the circuit

I also inserted a wooden dowel in each pair of spokes for added rigidity.

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After inserting the fiberfill, I tested the circuit for the 1345th time before soldering the battery pack and closing up the hole.

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Double checking the circuit before soldering the battery pack to the circuit

IMG_4628Finally closing up the plushie!

I had so much fun with this project!  Although I had given myself a difficult pattern challenge, it felt great to discover resources like Pepakura and the 3D model function on Tinkercad.  I look forward to creating more complex circuits next time.