If you can express an idea in five or fewer words – no matter how ridiculous – textile artist Paul Nosa will turn it into a custom embroidered patch on the spot. Using no pre-drawn designs or computer templates, Nosa’s method of freestyle embroidery is an artform in its own right. But what makes Nosa’s work especially interesting to us is the fact that his sewing machine is powered solely by a solar panel and a bicycle generator.
Nosa’s workstation is a portable sewing table that he built and designed himself. The “solar sewing rover” features a Singer sewing machine, an inverter wired to a 12-volt, deep-cycle marine battery, and cabinets to store Nosa’s array of colorful thread and fabric. It also displays his collection of original patches, each inspired by a “scenario,” an idea expressed in five or fewer words. According to Nosa, the rover took a year to plan and design and two months to build.
Nosa is currently trying to raise $7,500 through the online crowd-funding website Kickstarter to take his solar sewing rover on the road. From May through October, he plans to visit art shows, craft fairs and street festivals in major cities across the U.S. to make custom embroidered patches powered by alternative energy. In his kickstarter video, Nosa’s patrons receive custom embroidered patches depicting phrases like, “I love you more,” “hairdresser on fire,” and “train of thought.” If they want, Nosa’s customers can do their part by juicing up the sewing rover using the bike generator. Ten minutes of biking can power 10 hours of sewing.
Nosa says that his mission is to inspire people’s imagination and creativity by providing them with something tangible representing their ideas, and teaching them how to use alternative energy sources. Starting in his hometown of Tucson, Ariz., Nosa will transport his entire rig in a big green van (which also has a solar panel on the roof) to cities along the West Coast including: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. He then plans to head east to Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., with many more stops along the way. His work and installations have been previously featured at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, Oregon Country Fair, Harmony Festival, Bumbershoot, New York Art Expo and many other venues.
You can support Nosa’s project by visiting his kickstarter page (where you can also watch a video of a dog sewing a patch with a bone on it). Pledges of $10 receive a hand-drawn scenario mailed to you. Pledges of $20 or more receive a custom patch from his collection.