Valentine Make and Dine Makesperience (for Couples)

Join us Sunday, Feb 11th. Spend time with your sweetheart – Make/Dine/Relax. It’s all about making time to share together.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and friendship. Let’s face it, you probably didn’t think of Nova Labs while thinking up your romantic plans. Well, paradigm shift. What if Valentine’s Day was more about an unusual sense of togetherness? The idea of forging something with a significant other.

Wouldn’t that open things up a bit of a new experience this year? Maybe even a MAKERSPERIENCE!

OK, if you are with me. Let’s do this thing. 

Here’s the plan.

You still have the chocolates, the roses, and the romantic dinner! Except, you forego the crowded restaurants with tough-to-get reservations. This year, you and that significant other will share and experience; you’ll make something together.

Let’s face it, when it comes to the maker experience, Nova Labs has got ALL the tools in AAALL the right places.

Making is our thing, but now, we are adding RrrrOMANCE! Tools AND romance? Awesome.

Here are a few simple steps to help you get a personalized experience:

Step 1. Sign up for your class. Space is limited. Each class has its own meetup.


Classes include

  • Intro to woodworking with handtools – Learn to make a frame
  • Paper roses – Learn to make realistic paper roses that last forever
  • Wine rack – Blacksmith wine bottle rack
  • Patrick – Design and laser cut your own love birds heart light
  • Woodshopcowboy –  Woodworking for the Kitchen

Step 2. Sign up for the dinner at 4pm.

The dinner features a romantic setting, candle light, wine, food, music, back ground visual. Dine alone or combine tables with friends. Relax on the couches and talk about your makesperience during you classes and what you made.

Additionally, for those of you still looking for unique gifts from our local artisans. Mark your calendars for this last minute gift idea market later in the week.

Maker Market (Valentines Edition) – February 13th, Nova Labs

  • Need a special Valentine ’s Day gift? We’ll have handmade items from our artisans and makers for sale. Beautiful, personalized vases. Paper flowers. Just drop by and pick them up

** If you wish to be an artisan/vendor contact us at Tables are just $5

** If you wish to order a personalized vase with a floral arrangement, contact us at

Crafting Custom Floral Valentines, Forging Press Arrival, Maker Faire NoVA Coming Soon!



Nova Labs is off and running with a variety of activities as diverse as our membership. In the shops, makers craft custom Valentine’s vases with expertly arranged roses thanks to a collaboration between longtime member and CNC laser engraver/cutter steward Patrick Thompson and florist Melanie Cameron of Mystical Rose Flowers, who recently discovered Nova Labs when Tech Shop unexpectedly shuttered their doors. Makers explore the capabilities of the recently arrived forging press. Girl Scouts discovered making in the second annual Pinewood Derby Workshop made possible by a generous grant from the Northern Virginia Community Foundation. Out and about, Nova Labs volunteers enjoyed productions at the CenterStage made possible by the Reston Community Center including Tamika Mallorydelivering the Keynote Address for the Reston Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration, and performances of The Color Orange, and Peter and the Starcatcher.

This month we are pleased to welcome new key members, including family members (a key member benefit) and a number of longtime volunteers with cybersecurity for youth. We are thrilled to host a monthly Startups Social where ideas for new ventures are shared. The Maker Faire NoVA committee is hard at work preparing for our upcoming signature event hosted at George Mason University.

Happy Valentine’s Day and Enjoy Making!

Marybeth Haneline Signature

Click below for the rest of the newsletter! Continue reading

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.


Nova Labs is Hiring! Part Time Coordinator

Now Hiring: Member and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Part Time

Nova Labs is looking for a Customer Service Superstar who makes everyone feel welcome, assists with communications and membership tasks, and helps classes run smoothly at the makerspace. This is a part time position of 10-20 hours per week; primary hours are weekday evenings and/or weekend afternoons. Please email resume to:

Full Job Description
Nova Labs Tour

Nova Labs Front Desk



October 2017 Newsletter



We are thrilled to welcome Tara Youngborg, Nova Labs’ own Makerspace Coordinator. Tara is an artist and a maker, and comes to us highly recommended from Bowdoin College where she was a Visual Arts Technician. Tara is here to help our community grow. If you see her, please introduce yourself and make her feel welcome in our community.  You can find Tara here on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights.

There are many people who brought us to this wonderful place. Jennyfer Peterson, last year, founded the Service and Hospitality team, to fill the gap in a volunteer capacity while we strengthened our revenue stream. The work done by this all volunteer team is critical in defining the  Makerspace Coordinator role and providing a support team. Since January of this year, Suzanne Chanesman, Bean Design and Andrew Albosta, faithfully publish the newsletter. The August newsletter on the Nova Labs website attracted our finalists to this opportunity. Sam Aparicio shared his considerable recruiting and interviewing talents, to craft the winning profile that attracted the attention of suitable candidates and guide the interview process. Jim Girardi, while transitioning the role of treasurer also played an instrumental role on the hiring team, along with Jennyfer Peterson. Patrick Waters led the team to document Nova Labs policy, laying the necessary groundwork for hiring paid staff. Nine months ago, in establishing priorities, the Board prioritized defining policy as essential before the first hire. It is incredibly satisfying to reflect on the amazing contributions of so many talented members to bring us to this place.

We are well positioned for the work on the horizon. Sam Aparicio is leading the Nominating Committee team for the Board Positions opening up. In the coming months, the Board will work on crafting policy around how the Board operates. We will also develop a succession plan for the role of President. Taken together, along with policy put in place over the past year, the organization will be in a stronger position to build Nova Labs 3.0.

Please join us in welcoming Tara Youngborg to our team!

Thank you, 



The board is pleased to welcome our latest Key Members: Eric Link, Michele Tulley, John Youmans, and Ying Zhang.

The board also hired Tara Youngborg as Nova Labs’ first paid position, the Makerspace Coordinator. Please be sure to introduce yourself and welcome her to our community.

Accounting-wise, Nova Labs’ receivables are currently below $4K which means that fewer people owe dues, fees, etc. If you’re still having trouble with Stripe or another payment system, please contact Jim Girardi to help resolve the issue.

As there will be two open board positions (after Jim Sweeney’s term is over), the board commissioned a nominations committee to identify and vet possible board candidates. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact the committee chair, Sam Aparicio.

Please feel free to reach out to the board members if you have any questions.

 HAPPENINGS: Call for Board Candidates

Help Us Fill Two Board of Director Positions

Do you know someone amazing who could help the Board in its leadership of the Nova Labs community? We are looking to fill two positions. Great candidates have a passion for making, bring business skills, show good judgment and are willing to put in the effort to drive key initiatives. Please send in contact info to Have questions? Contact:

Sam Aparicio (Chair)  |  Jim Sweeney  |  Bo Pollett Wernick


HAPPENINGS: Member Spotlight


Curt Welch

Hospitality and services would like to express rather obnoxious and loud praise for all the cool little important things Curt Welch has been doing round the labs.

If I listed everything, it’d take a while. There are a few people like Curt who help me with the small jobs. Hanging the white boards, relocating cabinets for rentals.

One of the key, but essential, projects Curt has tackled is creating hanging storage in the metal shop, and a locked outdoor tool cabinet- lots of people use it but not many people know that it is all thanks to Curt that we have these storage solutions!

>>> provided by Jennyfer Peterson and Mike Hogarty

 HAPPENINGS: 2017 Woodshop Roundup and Awards

Patrick and the Woodshop Stewards would like to recognize the contributions of the following volunteers:

Shop Volunteer: Larry R
Person who has made a great impact in shop over the course of the year

Over-Sharer: Frank S
Person will share not only knowledge, but also show and tell projects during meetings

Over-Engineer Engineer that Could:  Will P& Zach B
This is for the most ridiculous project!

Who Made That?: John S & Will P
This is based off the number of times a tour guide has to explain what the heck that is to visitors- this is certainly an award of ambition, not completion.

Slacker of the Year: Curt W
This member contributes online in our Slack chat the most

I Learned from You: Philip, Norm, Larry R. Frank S, Patrick W.
Acknowledgements of woodworkers that have taken on mentor roles for the Nova Labs woodworking community

Volunteer Appreciations: Curt W, Adam G, Siobahn W
Nova Labs members have reached out and acknowledged these three volunteers for their work throughout the year, though they are not the only wonderful volunteers we have had in the wood shop this year!

UPDATE: Safety

At Nova-Labs, one of our main goals is to make this a environment that prioritizes safety. There are several parts to this effort:

  • Our safety policy

    • You can find it on the wiki

  • Our safety committee

    • Which is meeting soon to review recent incidents and hot spots

  • Each of you!

    • If you see something unsafe, it is your responsibly to say something.

    • As stated in our safety policy – every person in the shop is expected to use work-stop authority to intervene and stop activities until safety procedures are adhered to when they witness unsafe work practices.

Keeping the shop and space safe is one of the most important things we do as a community.

>>> Provided by Lieselot Whitbeck

Nova Labs at the 1st Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta

The Nova Labs Navy

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017On Saturday, August 12, Nova Labs participated in the first Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta! The regatta, hosted by the Reston Museum at Lake Anne, went from 2 PM to about 4 PM and had over twenty participating teams – three of which were from Nova Labs! One boat was built by a Nova Labs team and another built to represent the Maker Faire NoVa – both participated in the Navigator Class (adults and students). Another craft, called the “Tetraheboat” built by Paul Chase, competed in the Skipper Class (adults).

Cardboard skeleton for the Nova Labs boat. Photo by Curt Welch.

Cardboard skeleton for the Nova Labs boat. Photo by Curt Welch.

Teams were only allowed to use cardboard, duct and masking tape, wood glue, and water-based paints. The Nova Labs boat, which utilized advanced CAD design, a gratuitous amount of laser cutting, and an innumerable number of human-hours, was voted “Most Likely to Float” during the design contest.

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Maker Faire NoVa’s boat embodied the spirit of teamwork, learning, and making. While Maker Faire’s boat did not make it far past the launch point, the craft turned out beautifully and got the word out about the fantastic Maker Faire NoVa. This team also won third place in the Navigator Class! Boat Maker Faire NoVa was crewed by: Shane, Jackson, and Dylan Smith.

Paul and his Tetraboat. Photo by Jim Girardi.

Paul and his Tetraheboat. Photo by Jim Girardi.

Tetraheboat was constructed with no plan – just a humble experiment with nature’s favorite platonic solid. Tetraheboat initially did a flip in the water and then pressed on to survive the rough seas of Lake Anne for a full run of over seven minutes. Scandalously, endurance was not a metric for award. Tetraheboat was commanded by the now-infamous Paul Chase.

Overall, the contest was filled with impressive and creative designs, good sportsmanship, exciting races, and spectacular sinkings (best sinking won the coveted “Titanic” award)!

Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017For the Navigator Class, team Nova Labs came in First Place at 2:16. The team was awarded an epic cardboard trophy which was also designed and built by the Nova Labs team – out of cardboard, no less.

Talking about Tetraheboat. Photo by Shane Smith.

Talking about Tetraheboat. Photo by Shane Smith.

Nova Labs and Maker Faire NoVa were in-kind non-profit sponsors of the event and ran a dry dock booth with supplies for quick, last-minute repairs. Remember, you can never bring enough duct tape!

Many thanks to all the volunteers, including the organizer Jeanne Marshall, Sam Winkelstein, Shane Smith, Curt Welch, Richard Freytag, Paul Sorensen, Dave Fritts, Carl Hutzler, Keane Peterson and the numerous makers who dropped in on occasion. In addition, a shout out to the dry dock volunteers including Lieselot Whitbeck, Sally Byer, and Jennifer Meinelp!

For more information about the event, please visit the Reston Museum.

For more photos and videos of the event, please check out these galleries:

Andrew Albosta | Jim Girardi

Curt Welch videos: Team Nova Labs | Tetraheboat

>>> provided by Jim Girardi. Photos by Andrew Albosta unless otherwise indicated.

September 2017 Newsletter


Reston Cardboard Boat Regatta - 2017

Nova Labs closed out summer with a splash! Nova Labs made many wonderful contributions to the inaugural Reston Cardboard Regatta – look for a detailed post on the blog soon.

eclipseLater in August, Nova Labs was a great place to experience the Solar Eclipse. There were two live feeds in the Orange Bay. In one feed, NASA tracked the Solar Eclipse across the continent. The other traced the view from the front lawn, using a specially equipped camera set up by Nova Labs’ own Bryce Peterson. The DC Area Drone User Group (DC DUG), the Smithsonian, and TechShop DC-Arlington generously provided solar eclipse glasses for safe viewing. Nova Labs Robotics workshop participants joined with a few dozen members and guests in the activities. Aimen, one of the participants reflected, “I had fun watching the great American solar eclipse.”

Along with the summer adventure, work continued through the summer months to support Nova Labs’ membership. In August, the board adopted the Nova Labs Membership Policy. This follows earlier work done to provide the Safety Policy and Code of Conduct. Together, these documents provide guideposts for Nova Labs’ growing membership. We are grateful to Patrick Waters for leading this effort.

There is an open search process for a director to serve a partial term, and we recently welcomed Jim Girardi, our newly appointed director and treasurer. Scroll down to Updates for more on this.

Thank you,



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. 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.

>>> Provided by Jim Girardi

Nova Labs Key Member Andrew Albosta traveled to Tennessee to view the total eclipse. His Facebook Live videos were viewed at the Nova Labs viewing party, and he came back with this stacked photo of the entire eclipse.

Nova Labs Key Member Andrew Albosta traveled to Tennessee to view the total eclipse.
His Facebook Live videos were viewed at the Nova Labs viewing party, and he came back with this stacked photo of the entire eclipse.

Reston Museum’s Cardboard Regatta sets sail Saturday!

LakeWeigh anchor for the 1st Reston Museum Cardboard Regatta!

Preparations for the Reston Museum’s 1st Cardboard Regatta are wrapping up at Nova Labs. Two boats have been taking shape over the past several days – one for Nova Labs, and another for NoVa Maker Faire. Both will be ready to go for the race.

Please come and cheer us on, or volunteer for the repair booth that is being staffed by the Nova Labs community.


The main event is THIS Saturday, August 12, with the race starting around 2pm. Location is the Boat rental area at Lake Anne Plaza

More details at the event website.

Check out some of these photos of the construction of the two boats:

Reston Museum Cardboard Boat Regatta – 8/12/2017

Summer fun for makers – cardboard boat race in Reston!

Cardboard boat hull

The hull of boat #1 is largely complete!

Nova Labs and Maker Faire NoVa will sponsor and staff a boat repair clinic & dry dock at Reston Museum’s Cardboard Boat Regatta. Both Nova Labs and the Faire will enter a boat in the regatta, too!

Cardboard hull pieces

Hull pieces cut on the laser cutter


A cardboard boat race!


Saturday, August 12th from 2-6pm


Boat rental area at Lake Anne Plaza

Join the fun:

Please consider joining our boat build sessions! They’re held evenings and weekend afternoons between now and race day at Nova Labs – look for sessions listed at

Cardboard boat hull being assembled

Boat #1 coming together

You can also help out the day of the race at the Nova Labs dry dock tent. Volunteers will have spare cardboard and duct tape to assist race teams with last minute boat fixes and answer questions about Nova Labs and the Faire. Contact [Jeanne Marshall] if you are able to help (see the email in the Chatter list serv).

 If you’d like to enter your own boat, you’ll find rules and registration at the event website. If you can’t help out in advance, please come to Lake Anne Plaza to cheer on our 2 boat teams!

We look forward to seeing you at a boat build or on race day!

Paper boat prototype

Paper boat prototype

We Are a Twisted Lot – Blacksmithing Group Takes Shape at Nova Labs

Bill S, Blacksmithing

Bill Steinhardt: Blacksmithing Steward, making sparks while working on a project after dark.

Artistic creation and physical exhaustion are great ways to cleanse the mind of stress.   Welcome to Blacksmithing!

Full forge, happy smiths

So many irons in the fire, so many people working well together and around each other.

Gary's Pineapple twist railroad spike

This technique as worked by Gary Walker is a pineapple twist worked into a railroad spike.

forge at night

Come out and see the forge lit up at night this summer!


  All are welcome to come watch our activities, satisfy their curiosity, and ask questions. 

Youth project

Youth working individually on a project.

ornamental smithing

Marnie works on an outdoor ornamental piece that is sheer inspiration










Father daughter teamwork

Keith and his young daughter working together on a project

See what happens, see how we work together and individually. What starts as an individual endeavor often transitions for a while into a team effort as we all work to support each other in our creative vision. Look on, as one person holds a large piece of metal with tongs, while a second person guides a chisel and yet a third person very precisely drops a large 12lb hammer to move metal without use of anything but brute force, heat, and gravity. 

Keith, Bill and Gary (left to right) work together to strike a chisel into a hot piece of metal with a 12lb. hammer.

Keith, Bill and Gary (left to right) work together to strike a chisel into a hot piece of metal with a 12lb. hammer.


Ready to jump in with both hands? Sign up for our hands-on intro class and get step-by-step instruction on creating your very own “S” hook. Classes are taught weekly at this point by either Curt Welch or Keith Meidling.

First S-Hook

My first S-hook as taught to me by Curt Welch

S-Hook Class

Keith’s first class instructing the beginners S-hook class