Friday, January 16, 2015

JCFabLab's Open House

Owner and organizer
Eric Nadler
Although some local organizations provide access to 3D printers, laser cutters, and similar tools, residents of Jersey City and nearby cities in Hudson, Bergen and Essex counties will now have an excellent new option for acquiring knowledge and skills in basic and advanced digital fabrication with the launch of Jersey City Fabrication Laboratory's (JCFabLab) programs for the wider public. Yesterday JCFabLab, a 2000-square foot space in the Jersey City Heights neighorhood near Union City held a multi-event house that included an afternoon Make-a-boat workshop for children, showing them how to laser-cut, assemble and decorate paper boats and rowers; a ribbon cutting with Jersey City's mayor, Steve Fulop; and two evening artists' talks, the first, which I attended, by Miriam Songster, who spoke about her Rauschenberg Foundation-Marfa Dialogues-sponsored, site-specific public performance, Ghost Food, exploring sustainability involving simulated food and a 3-D printed olfactory stimulator. The second, which I missed, Eric Hagan delivered, on his efforts as an installation tech helping to assemble Kara Walker's monumental sculpture A Subtlety this past summer at the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn.

JCFabLab is the creation of Eric Nadler (who, it turns out, is an old friend of my friend Jerry Weinstein), and as Eric told me last night, after many years (8) of planning and a year of getting the lab up to speed, which involved working closely with artists, manufacturers and others who needed digitally fabricated products, ranging from jewelry, figurines and plastic, wooden and metal prototypes to robots--yes, robots; I forgot to ask about these yesterday--which included workshops and classes, he felt ready to open the doors for classes and regular programs, for people of all ages, with various levels of membership available. The ultimate goal is create, foster and nurture a collaborative creative community for Jersey City.

One of the fabrication rooms
"This is a place where people can come together and collaborate and make things that they would otherwise not be able to make," explains Nadler, who has a varied background in filmmaking, video game design, computer programming, and product fabrication. "The possibilities are endless. You can meet someone you would never meet otherwise and create something you would never be able to create on your own."
He says a large aspect of the Fab Lab is the various classes and seminars it will host for children and adults, taught by a selection of respected artists and entrepreneurs within Nadler's network. 
Nadler said classes could be anything from a basic drawing class to building your own surfboard. 
"I don't believe you should have to pay $60,000 and go to Parsons or Pratt to get a basic design education," said Nadler, who attended the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. "Our classes will give people a basic foundation in art and design and teach people woodworking and welding techniques on all our machines."
One of the laser cut
boats, assembled
and on display
At the Open House all of the lab's machines and a selection of its products were on display, ranging from stickers and figurines to some of the boat templates. (What I didn't see where the were lab-produced JCFabLab Dollars available for machine time credit on the Laser/Engraver, the computer numerical controlled (CNC) Mill, or for children's workshops and memberships. Something else to inquire about next time I drop by.) The Open House also included free food and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a stirring performance by members of, and Songster's talk about her Ghost Food project with Miriam Simun, a Brazilian artist, provided a different way, at least for me, of thinking about what you might do with digital fabrication technology and tips on funding and organization. All in all, a fab night at JCFabLab, and I'll definitely be heading back there.

More photos:

A display table featuring some
fabricated materials (enlarge to see them) 
3-D printer 
Computer work station 
A laser cutting machine
Open house attendees
Miriam Songster, one of the
JCFabLab technical staff members
and Nadler before Songster's talk 
Miriam Songster talking
about Ghost Food
Another view of Songster's talk
from JCFabLab's Facebook page
(yours truly at left)

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