Jenne O'Brien

University Administrative Fellow at StudioLab

Where are you from? New York, NY.

Why did you want to work at StudioLab?
I discovered the StudioLab while designing and sewing my wedding dress(es). Just being in the space gave me a sense of the ways that technologies I had never used before (like the 3D printers and laser cutters) could provide new approaches to fashion design and construction. Working in the lab has also given me time and space to deepen my understanding of the sewing machinery I use regularly. This kind of work is a great counterbalance to dissertation writing, which often feels solitary and disembodied. (Caveat: history of science scholarship has often emphasized the social and embodied aspects of producing academic scholarship. My dissertation does this with mathematics!)

What are you working on this semester?
As a part of my University Administrative Fellowship (UAF) with the StudioLab, I'm helping to expand the lab's existing sewing infrastructure: machines, materials, and training. As a graduate student, I am finishing a dissertation about mathematics and nineteenth-century German universities. In the few hours that remain, I am working on a handful of custom wedding dress designs, strengthening my sewing/construction skillset, and developing my identity as a designer.

Where should beginners start at StudioLab?
Learning with someone else, whether that means alongside a fellow learner or under the guidance of a StudioLab tech. The mentorship and community StudioLab provides is as much of a privilege (and a rarity) as the access to the technology. If you can, form a small community of people who share your interest in a given technology. As you learn, they'll spare you a lot of troubleshooting-related headaches. Equally importantly, just knowing you can call upon these friends will help you to sit with the discomfort of navigating technological challenges independently—a crucial part of the learning process, which you will face again and again.