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.


November 2017 Newsletter


We hosted a welcoming Open House for Manufacturing Day with a number of neighbors stopping by to check us out! Our guests included the National Association of Manufacturing (NAM), corporate sponsor for Launch 100, and Armature, a newcomer. The team from Armature followed up with a return visit to learn more about us and to tell the Nova Labs story. We connected over a love of process and of embracing the work that comes with taking on complex challenges.

Thank you Mike Hogarty and Callye Keen of Red Blue Collective, for hosting and organizing Manufacturing Day and Launch 100 — wonderful events to showcase manufacturing and entrepreneurship at Nova Labs!

In other news, Tara resigned from the Makerspace Coordinator position for family and career reasons. Tara was a delight to work with and we thank her for sharing her many wonderful talents with the maker community. We thank Tara for brightening up the space and getting us messy makers a bit more organized.

Nova Labs is winding up the search for directors and re-opening a search for staff.

In this issue, you will find links to a video story of the Launch 100 pitch event, a Manufacturing Day followup published by Armature, and a Nova Labs job posting. Please consider sharing to help grow Nova Labs.

Please join us at the member meeting and welcome our newest directors — RSVP today!

Thank you, 

Click below to read the rest of the newsletter!

Continue reading

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.

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

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