Painting Light in the Dark



Fusing tradition with technology, this piece explores ideas of illumination and interaction in surprising, counterintuitive ways. Using photoluminescence, UV light and traditional embroidery techniques, White Light // Black Light embodies the adage that things are not always what they seem.


This project was designed in collaboration with artist Hannah Newton for Make Fashion's third annual fashion tech gala, and was shown at the 2015 Xiamen Fashion Week in Xiamen, China.

Studio Images

Photos: Zev Vitaly Abosh, PhotoArt4U
GIF footage: Paul Spenard, EyeSquared

On the Runway

White Light // Black Light opened Make Fashion's runway show at the 2015 Xiamen Fashion Week in Xiamen, China.

Photos and Footage: Mr. Wu Studios, Xiamen



The cape, skirt and blouse created for the White//Light dancer are embroidered and sewn with photoluminescent (glow in the dark) beads and thread. The garments' luminescent properties are ostensibly hidden until they are exposed to the UV lights of the Black//Light dancer's gloves.

Images from top left: bugle beads hand-dipped in photoluminescent paint; detail of beads; finished piece; detail of cape hand-embroidered with bugle beads; embroidery thread hand-dipped in photoluminescent paint.


Bedecked in a light-pulsing vest and UV gloves, the Black//Light dancer uses her gloves to reveal White//Light's photoluminescence onstage. The more the two dancers interact, the more they become illuminated.

Images from top: UV gloves in progress; comparison between first and second iterations of UV gloves - Version 2.0 uses a magnetometer to control the brightness of the LEDs based on distance between thumb and forefinger. Note: The final version  uses a neoprene bend sensor placed between the thumb and forefinger to modulate the UV light instead of a magnetometer, as seen in the video below (footage by Paul Spenard):

Images from top: vest in progress; finished vest; hand-embroidered details on vest

Completed: 2015

Team: Laura Dempsey, Hannah Newton