Changes are afoot—literally—in the newly combined Jewelry / Leather / Textiles Zone at the Idea Fab Labs in Chico.
To begin with, the Lab recently acquired a Juki Industrial Walking Foot Sewing Machine, allowing members to now sew through incredibly thick layers of material, such as leather and cowhide, very easily. The machine gets its name from a metal piece in the sewing mechanism that resembles a walking foot and helps feed the materials through while stitching. As Alicia Jacob, Zone Manager explains, “This machine is different from our other Juki industrial sewing machine, which sews much faster, but can only sew through thinner materials such as denim, canvas, and lightweight leathers.”
Jacob has managed the Jewelry and Leather Zone at the Lab for over a year. When she was asked to take over management of textiles as well, she suggested combining all three into a single room. The result is a larger overall work space with a full-size 8’ cutting table and plenty of room for collaboration, plus lots of natural light and improved ventilation.
For sewing and textiles work, the zone also features a Husqvarna Viking Designer Diamond programmable sewing and embroidery machine, a home sewing machine, a four-thread serger and basic sewing tools. The jewelry workstation features anvils and mandrills for bracelets and rings, chaffing hammers, mallets, files, a Dremel rotary tool, and a soldering station with acetylene torch. Members should provide their own materials and consumables, but there are samples of embroidery thread, leather scraps and copper pieces for testing and experimentation.
In addition to the wide array of tools available, one of the best resources in the new Jewelry / Leather / Textiles Zone is Jacob herself, who is regularly available to advise members on crafting techniques and project design. No stranger to leather and jewelry work, Jacob makes extensive use of the zone for her own projects, focusing on handmade leather handbags, backpacks and messenger bags, laser-etched with original art, available locally at Three Sixty Ecotique, 511 Main Street, Chico, California and online through her Etsy web site.
Members are required to attend a safety and basic use class (SBU) before being approved to use the zone, which happens on Monday nights starting at 6:30 p.m. Interested members should register for the next upcoming SBU on the Idea Fab Labs web site.