AMES, Iowa — Scarf designs by two Iowa State University College of Design students have been selected for production by Strands of Strength, a nonprofit organization that provides free wigs and head scarves to low-income Iowa residents who lose their hair during cancer treatment.

“Splatter Together” by Carley Biggs, a senior in marketing from Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and “Life and Hope in ‘Them’” by Nick Piloni, a senior in architecture from Sycamore, Illinois, will be printed by custom printing company DPI and distributed by Strands of Strength.

Biggs and Piloni created the winning selections this spring as part of a service-learning project in the digital textile design studio course taught by Teresa Paschke, professor of art and visual culture. Students in this studio have developed 36-inch-square scarf designs for Strands of Strength – founded by ISU interior design alumna and breast cancer survivor Deb Pulver – for the past eight years. Each year, two designs are chosen, printed on silk and distributed to Iowa women undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.

This year, students’ work had to incorporate the 2020 Pantone Color of the Year, “Classic Blue,” and reflect the theme, Merriam-Webster’s 2019 Word of the Year, “They.”

For her design inspiration, Biggs wrote down other words that first came to mind when she considered the theme: “together” and “inclusive.”

“The use of different colors and the size of the brush strokes in Photoshop is where I felt those words come into the design the most,” she said. In addition to bringing everything together, “the border acts as the word ‘they’ and how I think it demonstrates inclusivity.”

In Piloni’s design, “the different hair/seedlike shapes represent life and hope that we as humans all have,” he said.

“The different lines represent connections we have with each other and how we may not all know each other, but we are all still connected to someone and when we feel that goodness inside, we blossom into something beautiful as seen by the circles on the tip of the hope blossoming.”

Biggs, who is minoring in digital media through the College of Design, took the class to learn more about textile design, printing onto fabrics and putting them to use in a garment or home furnishing, she said. The scarf project “really challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone and try to put a deeper meaning into my designs.”

For Piloni, who is minoring in digital media and sustainability, the class not only fulfilled one of his minor requirements but also fit well with his passion for fashion design and allowed him to use Grasshopper – a visual programming language he learned in an architecture course – to create his patterns.

“Once I created the patterns in Grasshopper, I exported them to Illustrator for line weight and then moved them to Photoshop to apply the colors,” he said. The project allowed him to create a design that he hopes “gives courage and strength when one has to battle and overcome breast cancer.”


Deb Pulver, Strands of Strength, deb@strandsofstrength.com
Carley Biggs, Marketing senior, ckbiggs@iastate.edu
Nick Piloni, Architecture senior, nkpiloni@iastate.edu
Teresa Paschke, Art and Visual Culture, tpaschke@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, hsauer@iastate.edu