• 04/18/2021 12:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Makersmiths Gets Down in the Weeds!

    By: Shereef Sayed

    Because Makersmiths is a non-profit, community-based organization, we do work with youth groups in a variety of ways. One of our partnerships is with Loudoun County Public Schools. This academic year, two students from Woodgrove High School taking an independent science research course contacted us for mentorship help.

    For two Woodgrove High School students (Go Badgers!) and their Independent Research class, they needed to submit a research proposal that would address a problem. While visiting family in Italy, one of the students noticed that her Mom could eat foods containing gluten, unlike eating similar foods back home. “Why is that?”, she wondered. With help from her research partner, they came across a research paper that showed a strong correlation between Celiac disease and certain herbicides that are applied to wheat fields to hold weeds in check. They also learned that countries in Europe have banned the use of herbicides, but we are still using herbicides in the USA. “Hmm, how can we fix this?” they wondered. They determined that they should build a robot that can only spray herbicides on weeds, but not crops.

    It turns out that their idea is one of a growing industry (pun intended) called Precision Agriculture. From academia to start-ups to corporations, the agriculture industry is developing innovative solutions to make better use of farm resources, including herbicides. 

    My background is as a systems engineer and I volunteered to mentor the students.  When they described their initial research plan, it seemed like an awful lot of ground to cover in one academic year (pun intended). In order for a robot to spray only weeds, it seemed that we should first focus on solving the problem of distinguishing crops from non- crops. All you need is a neural network, right? They’re everywhere, right? 

    Siri? Alexa? How do you build a neural network? 

    To build a neural network you need to first train it with pictures of the objects you want to find. All we had to do was search the Internet for a bunch of pictures of weeds in a field, but we needed to find a lot of pictures...like, hundreds of pictures. Despite our best efforts to search the Internet, the only comprehensive image database of weeds that we found currently comes from Australia. Just to be sure that our Internet search was complete, we contacted a Professor at Virginia Tech in their Weed Sciences department, and asked what database his students use for their research. Turns out they use a database from Denmark! Well, I explained to the students, if the Internet is a sum of all human knowledge, and your search leads you back where you started, then you’ve just found a hole in the Internet; a place of incomplete knowledge. So, the research project was beginning to become more focused. The students decided that their research for this year's research class is to fill that gap and create the first North American Weed image database for training neural networks to find weeds in a field.

    Right now, the team is focused on finding a camera that can take pictures in both the visible light and infrared spectrums. They are also learning how to annotate images to help train a neural network. 

    With the help from a conservation specialist with Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, the students now have two farms that they can visit that are growing winter wheat.  Once the weather warms up, they will be busy taking lots of pictures, changing the world, one weed at a time. 

  • 04/15/2021 8:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The monthly (socially distanced!) work days in Purcellville are returning!

    As we did in pre-COVID times, we are inviting members at 9:00 AM until at least noon on the first Saturday of each month to our Purcellville location to drink coffee, eat 

    donuts, and maintain and improve the space. This is also a great opportunity for prospective members who want to see the space to drop by and know that a member will be at Purcellville to show you around. 

    For members, this is al

    so one of the easiest ways for you to fulfill the volunteer hours that are a requirement of your membership. It’s not all work, though, this a great way to meet other members, forge new friendships and sometimes learn new skills.

    Group Build Project

    Makersmiths will be doing a group build of an information kiosk for the town of Purcellville that will be located at the old train station. It will be built of steel and powder coated. The design calls for a modular build approach. Each piece must be small enough to fit in our powder coat oven that also means that each piece must be easily transported to the location, assembled on site, and then bolted together. This is a great opportunity to dust off some old skills or learn some new ones. We will be laying out patterns on sheet metal, cutting them out, using the box and pan brake to bend them, and MIG welders to weld them together. 

  • 04/12/2021 11:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The ongoing pandemic has made it more difficult for prospective members to see what's actually inside our Makersmiths locations without our regular Open House nights.  What kind of tools do we have?  We could list them out on a website, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million.  And in this case we have two videos so we have two million words!  Check out our latest tour videos on Youtube at the links below.  Some of the tools and rooms have already been upgraded since the videos were shot so watch this space for new videos in the coming months.

    Leesburg Tour Video
    Purcellville Tour Video

  • 04/10/2021 2:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jessee Maloney, owner and operator of the brand Art School Dropout for the last 18 years (https://www.artschooldropout.net), is a professional quilter and freelance artist. She joined Makersmiths in 2017 to learn how to use the laser cutter.  Since then she has learned to use the 3D printers, vinyl cutter, t-shirt press, welding equipment, woodshop, and CNC machines to make the art work and products that she sells online and at various craft shows and conventions.  Jessee also assists our Cosplay members in helping them design and sew costumes.  During our COVD-19 initiatives, she made many face masks and has helped been instrumental in developing the new member orientation classes.

  • 04/07/2021 7:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Welcome to Spring! Makersmiths gardeners are busy and now have a volunteer horticulturist to advise them. Both Leesburg and Purcellville have garden space, and Makersmiths has a plot at the community gardens at Ida Lee.

    The Board has approved a UV flatbed printer for Makersmiths. Print samples are available at Makersmiths Leesburg to get a good look at what a UV printer can do, including monogrammed golf balls, printed acrylics, boxes, trophies, control boards, gauges, puzzles, and much more.

    While the pandemic is hopefully waning, we still need to remain vigilant and follow the CDC and Virginia guidance on group gatherings.  Members must wear a face mask at all times while inside our buildings and adhere to social distancing guidelines.  Each site has hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for use in the facilities.  We have begun to offer limited in-person classes with one instructor and up to three students per class. All classes can be found on the Makersmiths website: https://makersmiths.org/events

    While the pandemic continues, we are providing Associate Members full access to both the Leesburg and Purcellville spaces after they have taken New Member Orientation and at least one Red Tool Class.  A Red Tool is a machine or tool with the potential for personal injury or damage if misused.  Red Tool classes are available through the tool/room steward or the events link above.  Red Tool training is required for woodshops, metal shops, welding areas, CNC machines, and laser cutters.

  • 03/08/2021 11:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This March, the theme of Women’s History Month is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).” Women make up 48 percent of the workforce, but make up less than a third of STEM workers.

    The burgeoning makerspace movement provides advantages for startups and entrepreneurs, and the most beneficial parts are the resources it provides and the connections members make…surrounded by like-minded, creative people sharing support, ideas, and opportunities—possibly sparking a collaboration.

    We have many resourceful women that have been members for several years contributing to our community, some are highlighted here.

    Beverly Murdock, a Makersmiths member since 2017, is a multi-talented maker. By trade, she is an engineer who consults in program management, compliance, and technology strategy in the wireless telecommunications industry.  She grew up woodworking with her dad. Off hours, she enjoys cake decorating, nature photography, a variety of crafts, home renovation, and helping friends and family solve problems by making things.  She uses the laser cutter for everything from etching pumpkins to wall signs. This Christmas, she and her sister constructed giant nutcrackers that evolved into hosting a class for friends to do theirs.

    Erin Werling, a Makersmiths member since 2015, currently serves on the Board of Directors for Makersmiths. She loves to sew, quilt, and use her Cricut machine to create all kinds of things such as cutouts to make paper flowers. She even learned basic blacksmithing skills at Makersmiths-Purcellville! As a Makersmiths community outreach volunteer, Erin participated in a maker fare hosted by Loudoun County’s Rust Library to teach families how to make sidewalk chalk! Erin and fellow Makersmiths member, Jessee Maloney, like to host Crafts Nights at Makersmiths-Leesburg twice a month, and hopes to resume this family-friendly event at Makersmiths once COVID-19 restrictions end.   

    Jessee Maloney, owner and operator of the brand Art School Dropout for the last 18 years (https://www.artschooldropout.net), is a professional quilter and freelance artist. She joined Makersmiths in 2017 to learn how to use the laser cutter, and since then is now skilled using 3D printers, the vinyl cutter, t-shirt press, welding equipment, woodshop, and CNC machines to make her art work and products that she sells online and at various craft shows and conventions.  Jessee also assists our Cosplay members in helping them design and sew costumes.  During our COVD-19 initiatives, she made many face masks and has helped onboard members virtually. 

    Julie Borneman joined Makersmiths in 2018. Julie is a VNLA Certified Horticulturist Chesapeake Bay Landscaping certified. She also currently serves on the Rural Economic Development Council for Loudoun County and runs her business, Watermark Woods Native Plant Nursery (https://www.watermarkwoods.com) in Hamilton, Virginia, the only pesticide-free nursery in Loudoun County. She has her own workshop at the nursery, and makes various welded and ceramics garden art that grace native plant gardens. She is also currently serving on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy as the board president.  As a Makersmiths member, she has shared her ceramics skills in our ceramics shop, such as teaching how to make these nested soap dishes.

    Tami Scannell and her husband, Pat, are founding members of Makersmiths. Tami has a long history of adventure and creativity.  She skied for the United States Ski Team in the sport of inverted aerials, coached the largest freestyle skiing program in the nation and her corporate career included marketing for Olympic sports, telecommunications and technology. At Makersmiths, Tami enjoys using the CNC, laser cutter, woodshop, blacksmithing, kilns and welding equipment. Her favorite projects include: A welded wine bottle Christmas tree, mentored by Jim Waldron. Christmas ornaments and signs for Snickers Gap Christmas Tree Farm. An ocean themed towel rack on the CNC, supervised and guided by Jim.  To date her "piece de resistance", is a replica of the Thomas Jefferson revolving book stand, she built under the tutelage of Mike Dewan. One of the few times, in 30 years, she was able to give Patrick something he needed and did not have.  For Tami it is curative and rewarding to make items that solve for a need or create something that gives joy. Tami states the hidden beauty of Makersmiths is getting to know other makers, sharing ideas, learning and celebrating the accomplishments of working together. Makersmiths is a unique community of ingenious and inspiring people for whom she is incredibly thankful for. The only downside is, not having enough time to do all of the projects on her wish list.

    Tami states the hidden beauty of Makersmiths is getting to know other makers, sharing ideas, learning and celebrating the accomplishments of working together. Makersmiths is a unique community of ingenious and inspiring people for whom she is incredibly thankful for. The only downside is, not having enough time to do all of the projects on her wish list.

    Her next projects include: 

    * Pounding out an Irish Kilt Pin

    * Building a toilet paper dispenser, in the wall  that automatically replaces itself and discards the inner cardboard roll  

    * Catching up with Dave Painter to make a casting of a brass moon candle holder

    These are just a handful of the amazing women that we are lucky to call members, and we'd love to wish each and every one of them a Happy Women's Month!

  • 03/07/2020 7:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When giving tours at Makersmiths we are often asked, "What do you offer for kids?" There are a number of educational initiatives Makersmiths members offer to families. This is one. It is called the KidWind Challenge. We have five middle school students that Makersmiths members volunteer to mentor.  Jennifer Chu is pictured here working with students to learn to measure the pitch of the wind turbine blades the student on the right designed and created using woodworking skills. The five Middle School KidWind team members are preparing for the Northern Virginia Challenge on April 14, 2020 at the 4H Center in Front Royal, VA. They will enter the basic challenge event using a Vernier generator and a gearbox that another Makersmiths member, Ralph Pugh, is helping the students design and create. Prior to this KidWind Challenge event, the students will display their work at the Loudoun County Public Schools Student Maker Showcase on March 26, 2020 from 5:30-7:30 PM at the Academies of Loudoun. Won't you join us that night to meet our KidWind team and to also see the Shoo-B Robot research team, also mentored by Makersmiths members Dave Painter and Mark Millsap? For more information about these events, please visit:

    LCPS Student Maker Showcase
    Northern Virginia KidWind Challenge

  • 10/05/2019 11:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On October 5, 2019, Makersmiths-Purcellville lit up its forge! We held an Open House from 1-4pm to share with the community of makers our newest making addition! If you missed the Forge Open House, please come visit us any Tuesday evening from 6-8 PM for a tour of our space. Address is 785 S. 20th Street, Purcellville, VA 20132. 

  • 10/02/2019 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Sept. 28 and 29, 2019, three Makersmiths members held "how-to" workshops at Rust Library in Leesburg during the library's weekend How-to Festival. On Saturday, Diane Painter taught adults and children how to make glycerin-based soaps. Dave Painter set up his laptop and a desktop CNC machine to show library visitors how he uses his computer and the CNC to create plagues. On Sunday, Erin Werling had a huge crowd at her sidewalk chalk-making station! This was a great example of how community-based maker spaces and libraries can work together to help the public understand the function and fun of maker spaces!

  • 06/18/2019 6:16 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On June 1st, 2019, Makersmiths had a team of six members participate in the Relay for Life of Loudoun County in the Villages of Leesburg near Wegmans. As a 1st year team, we finished as #18 of 47 total teams and raised over $1,980! The Leesburg event has raised just under $160,000 this year! Our booth received a lot of attention from Relay participants, as well as local shoppers. We raffled off several handmade items that were made and donated by our members including: resin river serving boards, horseshoe coat racks, homemade soaps, a quilt, challenge coin stands, and horseshoe wine racks. T-rex, aka Makersaurus, made several appearances sporting his Makersmiths t-shirt and he was a huge hit with people of all ages. He estimates that he was asked to take over 100 photos with people. We are already looking forward to next year’s Relay!

    Contributed by Jennifer Netsch

Come see us

Makersmiths Leesburg: 106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175
Makersmiths Purcellville: 785 S. 20th St, Purcellville, VA 20132

You can also watch Virtual Tours on our YouTube Channel!                                 

Join us

Normally the best way to get to know us better is to just come on by during one of our Open Houses:

  • Leesburg Open House: Thursdays 6-8pm
  • Purcellville Open House: Tuesdays 6-8pm

You can email info@makersmiths.org to request a tour if those days don't work for you. We're here to help get you making the best way we can!  


Makersmiths is a 501(c) non-profit organization.  106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175

Makersmiths Anti-Discrimination Policy: Makersmiths does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members volunteers, subcontractors, vendors, and clients.

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