Nova Labs Maker Market and Artisan Fair, Dec. 2

Join us at Nova Labs for a special showcase of our Artisans just in time for the holidays!

Mark your calendars for a beautiful day at the Nova Labs Maker Market and Artisan Fair on Saturday, Dec 2nd. The fair goes from 10am to 4pm. Get there early because many of the items are one of a kind. If you are a holiday shopper looking for that special handcrafted gift. The fair is FREE and open to the public.

More information:









Browse, meet, and be inspired by our talented artisans and entrepreneurs. Crafting at Nova Labs includes 3d printed designs, metalworking, woodworking, jewelry, handmade wool items, scarves, painted glassware, stained glass, canvas paintings, cards, personalized items, key chains, and much more!

Bring your family and friends. Meet our robots, see our drones, and play in our new augmented reality sandbox. Buy products or order a custom design.


Saturday, December 2, 2017. 10am to 4pm. See you at Nova Labs!

Fun with Appliqué and Embroidery – multi-tool projects at Nova Labs

Ed note: This article was provided by Jeff Chanesman, a Nova Labs key member and steward in the woodshop, laser lab, and instructor for our CNC embroidery machine. Look for sessions on our Meetup page.

Applique pillowThe embroidery machine isn’t just for embroidery. Suzanne and I made these fun pillows using appliqué. Appliqué is the sewing of fabric onto larger piece of fabric to create pictures. The only thread used in this example is black. All the colors you see are pieces of fleece cut on the laser cutter and then sewn into place. It’s like painting with cloth!!!

This was very easy to do with the embroidery software we have at Nova Labs; Hatch from Wilcom. Shapes are imported or created and the converted to appliqué. This not only automatically creates the stitches to hold it in place but also creates stitch outlines for placing your pieces of fabric. You can then print out a template for cutting out your fabric “parts” or print them to PDF so you can convert them to DXF for laser cutting. I was able to cut out the eye, iris, and mouth for twenty of these pillow guys in less than 15 minutes including setup.

A bunch of pillows

You could easily make all sorts of projects using this technique. From potholders to stuffed animal friends.

I will give you an overview of instructions for doing this below, but remember you need to be signed off on the embroidery machine (and laser cutter if you plan on using it to cut your fabric) in order to sew these at Nova Labs. Hatch software is installed on all the machine in the CAD lab and you are more than welcome to use it but I would strongly encourage you to take the class. It is easy to use but can be daunting at first, especially if you are a first timer, as there are many specialized tools and settings.

Digitize AppliqueSuzanne created the initial design in Adobe Illustrator but you can use anything including Inkscape or CorelDraw (in fact if you happen to have CorelDraw X6 it integrates directly into Hatch). I had her size it to the exact dimensions she wanted and then saved it as a PNG. You then import the PNG into Hatch for digitizing. Using the Appliqué toolbox from Hatch’s left side menu. Digitize your shapes and then use the Object Properties toolbox from the right side menu to select fabric type as well as the kind of stitches to be used. This is also where you can select whether or not you will be using pre-cut fabric, or if you intend to trim in place.

Objects menuFor my project I chose pre-cut. Once you are done with each piece, save and export to the desired embroidery file type. You can then print out the templates to PDF. The machines in the CAD lab have the “Microsoft Print to PDF” as one of the printer selections. Choose this and save the file to a known location.
Import this into Inkscape or similar and save/convert it as a DXF in millimeters for importing into the laser software. If you are using Fleece, 400 speed 70 power works pretty well.

Hoop your fabric and stabilizer on the embroidery machine.

Load and run your embroidery file. The first stitch will be your placement. It will outline the location of where to place your pre-cut fabric pieces and then stop. Spray the piece with temporary fabric adhesive and place onto your fabric. Start the next part of the file which will tack and stitch your cover. Move on to each piece until complete.
Let me know if you have questions or if you would like a class specific to this sort of project.

Applique pillow eyeball

Parts of the eye after the outline (for placement) and tack-stitch were finished. The next step will be a satin stitch to cover the edge and provide a solid outline around the parts.


August 2017 Newsletter


LFP-featureimg“Team Ethiopia needed a hex driver so I borrowed one from Team Bahamas.” Maria, one of the teen volunteers from Nova Labs, was problem solving at the 2017 FIRST Global inaugural international robotics challenge for youth at DAR Constitution Hall. Maria was aware that there was a spare parts station with a line (staffed by yet another Nova Labs volunteer). Yet she recognized that this inter-team swap was a quicker solution, leveraging relationships she had just formed with these international teams. This is just one exchange illustrating the value that volunteering at FIRST Global brings to teens – teens who rose before dawn to arrive at the competition by 6:30 a.m., five days in a row – and were exhausted, yet eager, for more after the closing ceremony.

At the inaugural FIRST Global challenge, there were robotics teams representing nearly 160 countries, all under the same roof, for four intense days this July. Nova Labs provided hundreds of volunteer hours from dozens of teens and adults over the last several months, culminating in the competition. This newsletter highlights a sampling of the latest efforts. Over the years, Nova Labs, which places a high value on outreach, has fostered collaboration with mentors and robotics teams at area schools, positioning us to step up to this amazing service opportunity. The opportunity shines well-deserved national attention on Marshall High School teens who went above and beyond to make this a success.

FIRST Global President, Joe Sestek, recently shared with the volunteers, “Please know that without you, FIRST Global would not have been the measure it was…you made its reach go beyond our grasp, and I will always be beholden to you for that.” I echo the sentiments of this former Navy admiral and statesman, who expresses so elegantly for FIRST Global, the gratitude I feel for Nova Labs volunteers. Volunteering is what Nova Labs does best. I am humbled by the strength and quality of Nova Labs volunteers that come through for our fledgling organization, time and again, and allow us to realize more than I can imagine.





This month, the board continued the effort to hire Nova Labs’ first paid position. As you’ll see in this month’s newsletter, we’ve posted the job description. We’re very excited about taking this first step into our next phase of the nonprofit world.

This month, Nova Labs made two capital acquisitions – a new flammables cabinet for the woodshop and a new industrial sewing machine for the Crafter’s Cove. Both should be setup in short order. In addition, the board also approved the purchase of a defibrillator (AED) for emergency situations.

As for internal board news, Jim Sweeney is working with Jim Girardi to transition the treasurer office in the coming months. Also, there is an additional open board position, stay tuned for more updates on that.

As always, please feel free to reach out to the board members on Slack, e-mail, or in person if you have any questions, concerns, or creative ideas (that’s a given!).

>>> provided by Jim Girardi


HAPPENINGS: Industrial Sewing Machine Arriving

IndustrialSewing_img2The Crafters Cove just got an incredible upgrade, we are expanding our capabilities in multiple areas…with one new device.

The Consew 206RB-5 industrial sewing machine is capable of sewing a wide range of materials from regular fabrics to almost a 1/2 inch of leather. Other materials include all weights of canvas, multiple layers of the heaviest denim, any cordura nylon fabric, neoprene, thick quilts, etc. Basically, whatever that can fit under the foot can be sewn with a few exceptions, of course. So you will be able to tackle and complete a wide variety of interesting projects.

Classes on the use of the new sewing machine will commence around mid-August.

IndustrialSewing_img1Since this machine is able to sew leather, beginning leather working classes using the sewing machine will start before the end of August.

Leather working is a broad area and one class, broken into two sessions, will in no way cover the gamut. It will, however, provide a space for those interested in exploring the wide world of leather work.

>>> provided by Kirk Slowe (including LEATHERWORK)

[ Kirk Slowe, Nova Labs Associate, previously a member Tinkermill, a larger makerspace in Colorado (they have over 450 paying members).]


HAPPENINGS: Dog Days of Summer with Nova Labs’ own Robotics Workshops

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Workshop Lead and FRC Team Captain 5549

Lead Mentor Elena is in her third year volunteering with Nova Labs Robotics. FRC Team 5549 received national news coverage for their work mentoring Team Iran for the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge this July.

NBC Now:

NBC Washington:


HAPPENINGS: Marshall High FRC Team 5549 Mentors Team Iran at Nova Labs

TeamIran_img1Over the course of the FIRST Global happenings at the makerspace, it was brought to the attention of the volunteers that it was impossible to ship a kit of parts to Team Iran due to tight security and sanctions. Thankfully, local FIRST Robotics Competition Team 5549 from Marshall High school stepped up to lend a hand. Through a series of Skype calls, pictures of designs, and late nights, the team built a robot from the FIRST Global kit according to the designs and strategy of Team Iran.

TeamIran_img2After weeks of work in their school as well as the Robot Corral, they finally welcomed Team Iran at the airport on July 11th. The teams returned to the corral for a Persian feast generously donated by Amoo’s Restaurant of McLean and a happy introduction to the robot. Over the course of the competition, members of Team 5549, volunteering for FIRST global, continued to help out the team as well as the whole event. Team Iran departed on July 25th, having witnessed the experience of a lifetime.

>>> Provided by Elena Bachman, Captain, FRC Team 5549

HAPPENINGS: Volunteering behind the scenes with FIRST Global

Volunteering at GlobalFIRST Global brought to Nova Labs an official competition field in early summer for use in training and demonstration. Not only did officials train on the field in the Robot Corral, it was also used for Team Afghanistan who was denied a visa until days before the competition. Afghan Americans practiced running Team Afghanistan’s robot in the Robot Corral in preparation to stand in for the Afghan team.

A hardy team of volunteers battled the sun, heat, humidity, and birds to install the practice fields on the south veranda of DAR Constitution Hall. It was teamwork of the highest degree (figuratively and actually). There was even a volunteer who answered the Meetup call for volunteers and trekked downtown to assist.

There was a slight delay because the foundation platform on the veranda was not wide enough. We pressed forward to assemble all of the pieces we could, and positioned them for final assembly when the platform was widened. It took a solid team of build professionals to make it all work. Despite the heat, we accomplished much in a few hours. We stayed hydrated and got way cool FIRST Global water bottles.

During breaks, we cooled off inside Constitution Hall. Lots of activity to ready the venue. Country banners galore and serious activity to set up the main stage. Note: the AC works really well inside – it was comfy cool inside.

>>> Provided by David Link

Field Leaves Nova Labs  |   Set-Up Practice Field  |  Inside Field Setup  |  Competition

HAPPENINGS: Portable Magic – Nikki Rooney, Seed Grant Awardee

Have you ever been to an escape room? If so, you’ve probably see the myriad ticks, puzzles, codes, and technology that make them fun and engaging. Nikki Rooney, one of Nova Labs’ seed grant awardees, became involved in puzzle solving and puzzle making almost 10 years ago – this love of code breaking, clue finding, and problem solving inspired her to moonlight at an escape room (right in Herndon!) where she gained experience running the rooms, brainstorming puzzles, and even working on some of the electronics.

Through her work, she realized that the same puzzle theories, combined with available technology, could be utilized to help kids learn, explore, and improve critical thinking and problem-solving skills while, at the same time, having a “magical” experience. Since no such thing existed, she took it upon herself to use what she had learned to create interactive puzzles for her children. And what’s even better? Her kids don’t have to go to an escape room as she’s made them portable – and as anyone who’s traveled with kids knows, mobile entertainment is always a challenge. Like an actual escape room, all the puzzles are connected through content, but unlike an escape room, they are all physically modular. For example, one of her projects, a jigsaw puzzle, when completed, lights up and gives a clue to the next puzzle.

Nikki’s creations use multiple technologies that’s she’s learned about through her work experience as well as through Nova Labs classes. These include Arduino, Raspberry Pi, RFID, reed switches (reacts to the presence of a magnetic field), and more. We’re excited to see the final versions of her imaginative designs.

UPDATE: Board of Directors Service Opportunity

Nova Labs is currently seeking a volunteer to serve as secretary on the Board of Directors with skills in communications. Responsibilities include community building, strategic communications, and strategic planning. Before starting board service, the selected individual must agree to key membership, if not already.

The open term is through 2018, to complete the term of Kelli Kedis Ogborn, who recently resigned. Lieselot Whitbeck is serving as secretary in the interim.

Interested individuals will have an opportunity for a conversation with Nova Labs community leaders, facilitated by Callye Keen. To nominate a candidate, or volunteer yourself, please contact Callye or one of the directors:

Contact Info for Board of Directors  |  Callye Keen

UPDATE: Nova Labs is Hiring!

Nova Labs is hiring its first paid position – a makerspace coordinator! This is an important moment for any non-profit – the hiring of its first paid staff. We’re looking for a customer service superstar who can coordinate events at the makerspace, ensure they run smoothly, make everyone feel welcome, and assist the President with membership management tasks.

Initially, this will be a part-time position of roughly 20 hours per week (position may be shared). We’re excited about this important step as Nova Labs continues to grow and prosper.

Direct Referrals  |  Job Description

>>> Provided by Jim Girardi

Nova Labs Cupid’s Arts and Crafts Fair, Saturday Feb 11, Free


Come and bring your family, friends, and kids to the first annual Nova Labs Maker Arts and Crafts air. Join our artisans, an amazingly creative group of entrepreneurs. Inspirational!  See what YOU could be doing here with our tools. Buy products or order a custom design from our artisans. Crafting at Nova Labs is done either with hand tools or with our industrial machines, Including 3d printed, metalworking, woodworking, jewelry, handmade wool items, soaps and bath products, scarves, painted glassware, door decor, stained glass, canvas paintings, masks, dolls, cards, personalized items, key chains, and much more!  (

Metalwork piece

Metalwork piece


 While you are here, get a tour of our amazing maker space and try your own making in our craft making room. Play with Mandy the robot and our BB8 robots. 


This event will encourage and support our Nova Labs artisans inventors in general. Our community now includes an awesome traditional crafters, artists, and industrial craftsmen. Metalworking, woodworking, electronics. 










We still have some tables available for makers and crafters to sell. Contact us at

Contact events with your request for vendor information. Demonstrations welcome. Tables are $10 each. Multiple tables are allowed. 


LOTS of free parking close to the door. While here you can connect and network with our growing community of crafting fine art entrepreneurs.


Nova Labs introduces new Crafters Cove

Introducing the latest development at NOVA Labs, an area located in Orange Bay (the front work room) we are now calling Crafters Cove.

Crafters Cove features an impressive 12-color CNC Embroidery Machine (courtesy of the Chanesman family) as well as the Creative Tools Cabinet and two sewing machines.


The Chanesman’s Embroidery machine is a 70’s era Ultramatic. It has two heads, with 6 needles on each machine head. That means it can support 6 colors on each head. We’re told that it is really great for making your own badges.

FYI – anyone looking to design for the Ultramatic needs to know that it uses tajima dst digitized files. Designing for the machine may take some time, so here is your chance to get a head start while waiting for access to the machine.

Look for more information about learning how to use that CNC Embroidery Machine coming soon. Jeff will be working on calibrating the machine.  Once he’s had a chance to give it a shakedown run he will announce that the machine is up and functional.  If you are interested in helping to maintain the machine or help set up a class please contact Jeff Chanesman.

creative tools cabinet

The Creative Tools Cabinet holds a variety of crafting and art tools. This tool cabinet is an example of re-purposed  / re-claimed furniture that was a project of the Makers Circle & Art Lab (MC & AL) group. The MC & AL group sponsors and maintains the cabinet located in Crafters Cove.

MC & AL Tools are available for all Member and Associate use. A list of available tools and a wishlist is in a binder and will be on the wiki soon. Manuals for the sewing machines are available. However if you are not used to using a sewing machine please ask for assistance from the friday night MC & AL sewing gurus.

NOVA Labs encourages ideas and fosters cross crafting of skill sets across a wide variety of disciplines.


crafters cove white board

Brainstorming and planning is an essential part of the process. A whiteboard surface has been added to the back to help with sketching out ideas or task lists. The cabinet can also act as a portable divider; providing form, function and fun.

Crafters Cove includes a Fodder & Supply Center. It houses expendable or single use (used and gone) items. Offering a usable variety of supplies for general / class use. Rules of use are posted.

So come check out Crafters Cove next time you swing by NOVA Labs!

“Maker Circle and Art Lab” at Nova Labs Features Traditional Maker Arts

While many projects involve high tech, computer-based technology and know-how, Nova Labs also welcomes a number of makers who experiment with more traditional “maker arts.”

painting with water colorsEveryone starts somewhere on the path to becoming a Maker with each journey varying by natural interests and skills acquired. At the very core are the following values:

  • Try something new
  • Be curious
  • Ask questions and seek help from others
  • Do research
  • Share what you learned

many projects to work on

Since making is just plain fun, makers are enthusiastic and engaged in making things — especially when they are not experts! To that end, we launched the Maker Circle & Art Lab in January of this year. The group meets twice a month.

working with stained glass

When we started Maker Circle it went along with the belief that multiple interests form the basis of friendships. Through those relationships and the discovery of common interests, people are enabled to more effectively explore their passion for making.

many more projects

At recent Maker Circle & Art Lab events, participants worked in various media and techniques including:

  • quilting
  • woodburning
  • painting
  • jewelry
  • sewing
  • polymer clay
  • carving
  • crochet
  • knitting
  • cross-stitch
  • sketching
  • egg decorating
  • book binding
  • stained glass
  • tree ornaments

Brian brought his 100 year old hand crank sock knitter in an attempt to get it up and running. Others brought pieces of their technical project that are in the “crafted by hand” stage.

brian and his antique knitter

The skills and generosity of our community are truly amazing. The events are casual and the size of the group varies, but as many as 15 people have attended.

As a Maker, all skills have a value and we all seem to benefit from cross training in other areas. You just never know what will spark “The Coming Thing” as Brisco would say.

happy makers

So come out to an event, take a class, maybe teach a skill, see what else might strike a spark.  If you want to join us at the next Maker Circle and Art Lab event rsvp here. To rsvp for any Nova Labs event, check out the NOVA Makers Meetup page.

teens and pre- teens are makers too

We look forward to seeing you!