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A collaborative new approach to creation

Subina Khan

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A 3-D Printer turns digital designs into three dimensional shapes, like an iPhone case.Photo credit: Subina Khan


The Idea Fabrication Laboratory is keeping original art alive in its own unique way by granting students and members of the Chico community the opportunity to use amazing tools to create cutting edge art.

Located at 603 Orange St. — a mere four blocks away from the Chico State campus, the 6,900-square foot lab facility includes a number of work spaces, an art gallery and indoor and outdoor space.

The manifestation of the laboratory was a collaborative effort of Erin Banwell, Chico State alumni Jordan Layman and James Hall, and friends Sean Mitchell, Billy Hopkins and Kristina Banwell. The Idea Fabrication Laboratory was made as a space where people can use high-tech tools and make art, Erin Banwell said.

Artwork on display at the labs comes from a variety of artists, ranging from sculptors to graphic designers.

“The gallery displays the works of artists found through an incubator program who come from all over the world and learn to use the tools offered at the Lab,” Erin Banwell said. “Using this new knowledge, they apply it with their old craft to create unique and original art.”

With over 25 different tools offered, the Idea Fab Lab allows artists and creators to work on a wide range of projects.

“The artist combines what they’ve done in the past and these new tools and create a whole new body of work that is then shown at the Fab Lab,” Erin Banwell said.

A few tools the lab offers:

  • basic woodworking tools
  • fabric and leatherwork materials
  • metalworking tools
  • digital fabrication methods, like the laser cutter and 3-D printer
  • Laser cutter: It works with a computer to engrave the surface of almost any object. Type up or design your project, and the device burns the design into a piece of wood, glass or leather.
  • 3-D printer: It can take a digital model and make it a three-dimensional object of any shape. With this technology, members of the Idea Fab Labs can bring their ideas to life.

Members can schedule times at the lab to use the supply of tools, take advantage of the community space, or utilize the variety of electronic equipment available to create original art work.

Students who choose to become members can benefit as well. They can earn a 5 percent discount on membership prices. Students who lack access to the necessary technology can access these tools more easily through the lab.

The gallery is available to view every Thursday from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

To learn more about the Idea Fab Labs, visit their website.

Subina Khan can be reached at [email protected] or @subinakhan24 on Twitter.

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A collaborative new approach to creation