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3D printing and vinyl cutting join needle and thread in ASU's costume shop

April 16, 2019

Makerspaces drive creativity as more people look for elaborate costumes

It used to be that people would dress up once a year at Halloween, but the world of cosplay has opened new opportunities for people to create intricate, elaborate costumes to wear year-round. Arizona State University has several resources for making extravagant costumes — including professional help.

Sarah Lankenau, clinical assistant professor of costume technology in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, is holding a workshop on Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. to teach makeup techniques. The free workshop is open to anyone and will be in the Hayden Library mkrspace on the Tempe campus, where Lakenau will answer questions about using the technology there to create costumes.

“I feel like the idea of what is costume and what is performance has really expanded,” said Lankenau, who taught a workshop on costume wig styling at the space earlier this month.

“With the maker movement and the emergence of these makerspaces, it’s become such an open and collaborative community.”

Cosplay has driven interest in costuming, along with activities like the Renaissance Fair and Jane Austen societies. Next month, Phoenix Fan Fusion (formerly Phoenix Comic Con) will draw hundreds of costume-wearing attendees.

Students in ASU’s costume classes become as proficient in using vinyl-cutters and 3D printers as they do sewing machines — all of which are available in the Hayden mkrspace to anyone in the ASU community. Lankenau said that the costume shop in the Herberger Institue for Design and the Arts will get its own 3D printer next year, but it’s important for students to know about the resources available on campus.

Students used digital fabrication to create the costumes for the recent productionStudents who worked on the "Ajax" costumes were Adle Smithson, costume designer, and Niamh Murphy, Alexa Marron and Andrew Hopson, drapers. Digital fabrication was done by Marron and Smithson. of “Ajax,” a Greek tragedy.

“I emphasize to my students that they should use technology to solve a problem,” she said. For example, one student used the vinyl cutter to create an intricate “feather” design that would have taken many hours to do by hand.

“I try to impress upon the students that if you let the fact that you haven’t done something keep you from trying it, you’re really missing out on all the fun,” she said.

Besides 3D printing, the Hayden mkrspace also includes 3D scanning; a WACOM tablet, which allows digital capture of hand-drawn images; and a variety of electronics, according to Victor Surovec, program coordinator for the mkerservices, who will staff Hayden Library’s booth at Phoenix Fan Fusion.

“There was a time you did have to be in a profession to have the skill set to run some of this equipment, but now, the usability of some of this stuff has gotten to a level where I teach a 6-year-old to design and print in 3D,” he said.

Lankenau will hold a workshop on “Digital Fabrication for Costumes” from June 6 to 8 on software basics, how to access hardware, types of digital fabrication projects, how to make simple digital files for fabric printing, and 3D printing. Participants can attend for one day or all three days.

Top image: Sarah Lankenau, clinical assistant professor of costume design, shows an intricate costume that was created using a vinyl cutter. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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The human cost of expensive homes

April 16, 2019

Lack of affordable housing is key in homelessness issue, ASU experts say

Easing the problem of homelessness will require communities to build more affordable housing, and that will require creating a new narrative with people who oppose it, according to two Arizona State University experts.

“We need to get businesses, public safety, education and neighborhood groups on board,” said Joanna Lucio, associate dean of academic affairs and an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs.

She has researched community members who oppose affordable housing.

“We often say to them, ‘How can we assure you it won’t hurt you?’ Instead I want to say, ‘How can you be welcoming?’ ‘What do we need to do to create a community here?’”

Lucio spoke at a talk titled “Who Are Our Neighbors in Need? Homelessness and Affordable Housing in Our Community” at the Arizona Heritage Center in Tempe on Tuesday. 

She addressed the issue of affordable housing, while Melissa Kovacs, associate director for research at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, gave details about homelessness, which has increased.

Every January, volunteers spend a night counting people who are experiencing homelessness in shelters or on the streets, called a “point-in-time census.”

The total number of homeless people in Maricopa County was 5,605 in 2017, and it was 6,298 in 2018. And in that time, the number who were unsheltered — sleeping in a park or in a car — increased 12%, she said. About 1,100 were children.

A map of the Valley showed a dot for every person experiencing homelessness.

“I think the message here is that they were spread all around the county,” Kovacs said. “They were essentially everywhere they could be sleeping.”

In a survey of clients at the Human Services Campus in Phoenix, 40% said they were in debt, but 40% have a regular income. More than a third said they had been attacked or beaten up.

“Violence is a part of the life of experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Lucio said that lack of affordable housing is one reason for homelessness.

“There’s a lack of supply: wait lists for subsidized units, not enough shelter space and little support for transitional housing,” she said.

“I’ve been studying this for 14 years, and it always comes back to this.”

The impact of homelessness is encampments in parks and public spaces, leading to security expenses for businesses and arrests for the people experiencing homelessness. 

Many cities have passed “nuisance laws,” such as outlawing sitting on a sidewalk. 

“Something I’ve been working on is this ‘othering’ effect,” she said. “People who are experiencing homelessness are our neighbors. When we create nuisance laws, it’s dehumanizing — ‘They’re over there, and we’re over here.’”

Some communities have embraced permanent supportive housing, which also offers a lot of services. The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, did so and saw spending on homelessness and incarceration reduced by 64%, she said. 

Lucio has talked to people who moved into affordable housing that was set aside for them, and they felt out of place in their neighborhoods. 

“I saw how that latent opposition affected them,” she said. 

“I want to do more than just put people into housing. I want to create communities.”

This talk was in conjunction with the exhibit at the Arizona Heritage Center called, “I Have a Name,” a collection of black-and-white portraits of people living on the streets by art photographer Jon Linton. Linton included bits of his conversations with his subjects in the accompanying text. Eugene, 63, said that he had been on the streets for a third of his life and missed listening to music. Billie, 53, panhandled in Tempe and told Linton: “You know, I’m homeless, but I am still a human being.”

Top photo: Melissa Kovacs (right), associate director for research at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, and Associate Professor Joanna Lucio, associate dean of academic affairs, discuss homelessness and affordable housing at the Arizona Heritage Center on Tuesday. They engaged the audience talking about the causes, demographics and solutions to the community problem. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News