Ugly wiring

The slowness and care required to re-solder wire scraps back together raises tensions with the expectations of rapid creation and seamless technology products. To re-solder and rejoin discarded wires, one needs only enough length to twist together for a strong join. Ugly wiring draws attention to the traces of past projects and what was considered leftover, making acts of repair and re-membering [Haraway] integral to computing projects that use this wire, while also highlighting the aesthetics of imperfection and incompleteness.

Materials: Scrap wiring, lead-free solder, soldering station, wire strippers, electrical tape or shrink wrap

Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Rosner, D. K., Ikemiya, M., Kim, D., & Koch, K. (2013, April). Designing with traces. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1649-1658). ACM.


Step 1: Gathering

Collect pieces of insulated wiring from the bins and wherever e-waste piles up.


Step 2: Sorting

Sort them into different piles by type so the gauges and cabling material match.

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Step 3: Prepping

Using wire cutters, strip the ends of each wire and prep the surface for soldering, using sandpaper if need be.

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Step 4: Soldering prep & tool care

Prep your soldering iron by cleaning and tinning the tip.

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Step 5: Soldering

Twist the wire to form a strong connection and solder the twist by heating from below with the iron and letting the lead-free soldering tin drip down onto the wire, smoothing the connection. Reattach the pieces into a continuous length, stopping to insulate or tape each exposed segment as you go.

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Step 6: Re-joining

What other remnants of making might we deem too small or impractical to reuse? How might we join them back together as usable materials again? What networks of people, materials, and practices might we re-member in the process?

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