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Body Accordion, Phase 2

2013 Boston Fashionweek | Projects

  • The Body Accordion brings together two concepts: music and movement. The Body Accordion is designed to emulate the behavior of an accordion, being flexible and allowing circular movement yet fitted to the body like a corset. The Body Accordion is made of laser-cut plywood “ribs” that attach to a harness designed of recycled leather. 3D printed hinges secure the plywood ribs to the harness and allow the ribs to move and yet be stable at the same time. 

    We redesigned the Body Accordion to be a piece in NuVu's "Nature-Tech Collection" for the 2013 Emerging Trends Show during Boston Fashion Week. The corset didn't need to have versatile movement for fashion, so we went much farther with the design, more in the direction of a cage skirt. The structure has three belts in which everything connects - one at the top, one at the waist and one just below the butt. We also experimented with making the original ribs much bigger and more dramatic.

  • We continued the design process on the body accordion, working to make a sturdy frame to hold everything up. We redesigned, cut and lased together the first three arms that are going in the back. We tried putting the hook on both sides of the accordion, but it didn’t like that, instead it settled with having the hooks on the outside of the arms. We had to measure and approximate each length then redesign our old arms to fit the new parameters. Lacing the arms was tricky because we had to get each length of cord just right so it fit snug and to the angle of the arm.

    Now, for the structure; the structure is made of belts that are screwed together. We had to cut out holes in the belts for the 3D hinges, which proved to be very difficult because the belts were made of really hard compressed icky leather stuff. The structure was first on our priority list of things to do because it had to be ready for the model fitting. We also designed a few more arms to go on in various places of the structure.

    It’s time to combine the corset and arms. We put a few of the arms on that we had already made and adjusted the strings accordingly. It is currently wearable! It still has movement but now it is different movement. I think that the shoulder shrug makes the corset move the best; it makes the arms flap like wings. We are getting closer and closer to having it put together.

    For esthetics we had to take the whole project apart to paint and stain the wood to get rid of the burned look. Once it was disassembled we also had to cut eight more holes in the structure to put on four more arms that we had designed. We had to 3D print more hinges for the extra arms. For all the hinges we have to drill the holes larger because we had a slight calculation error in Rhino.

    Once we had all the arms designed and cut out we had to color the arms to make them look like they were stained. We had four different color choices; a red, orange, sand, and a light orange. We ended up going with the sand color. Once we picked our color we had to sand the burnt parts off of the arms and color them. We have eleven arms total, it took a while to sand and cut them all.

    We then had to reassemble the accordion. When we were disassembling it we thought that we would just remember which pieces went where, but we were wrong. Reassembling it took a long time. We had to switch the arms around a lot and there was a lot of screwing and un-screwing. The lock bolts are hard and time consuming to screw in. We used a lot of lock bolts.

    Once it was assembled we had to tie the laces on each arm. The arms have eight holes for laces each, and they have to be tied a specific way. Each tie has to go inside the other tie, so they don’t get tangled. Also each string goes from the farthest hole in half the arm to the shortest in the other. We have eleven arms to string up total, which is 88 pieces of string we had to tie. There are 88 strings on a piano; so there are 88 strings on our body accordion.

    We went to a little bit of the model fitting on Sunday and it was really interesting. The models were super tall. Our model ended up getting switched so we had to readjust the structure. The new model has narrower shoulders. We drilled new holes in the structure so there are more tightening options.

    I had put the accordion on to see how it falls. It falls differently on me then the manikin because I have legs the manikin doesn’t. We found some problems… The backs of the hinges are jagged against the body, so we are going to cover it in some fleece so we don’t cut the model. Also some of the polycarbonate supports aren’t stiff enough so we are going to have to add another layer to a few of the front supports. The elastics are also too tight in the front pieces, but that relates directly back to the supports being too thin.

    We also fitted Laura for our body accordion. She is a belly dancer and is going to be our model for the video. She and can make super cool movements with her body, which is really cool. The accordion looked great on her. We now have a better plan for the video of the accordion.

    Our final steps were getting the strings adjusted so the arms are the right tightness. We then super glued the knots, so that they won’t slip. The super glue was a disaster! Both Sam and I super glued our fingers together at least three times. The superglue containers would just explode in your hand, and then dry immediately. We did end up getting the knots glued after a lot of struggling. We cut off the excess string and we were finished!

    I went to the Boston Fashion Week Emerging Trends show and saw my accordion walk. It was SO EXCITING! I heard ooh’s and ahh’s and saw lots of people taking pictures. Way cool.