By Silk Allen
(Plain Press, July 2018) Maybe you aren’t into sewing or knitting, but you still want to make a personal statement with your clothes. The Cleveland Public Library is equipped to handle that.
Usually, when you think of the library, you rarely think of fashion and personal style, but the main branch downtown is helping to change that by providing patrons access to software and technology that allows them to personalize anything they can imagine.
The Tech Central Maker Space has a variety of high tech machinery including a laser engraver and cutter, a 3D printer and scanner, and professional level photography, videography, graphic design and music recording and production software and equipment, but the most popular machines are the vinyl printer and cutter and the heat press.
“Most of the use is for the heat press”, said Library Assistant Alison Guerin. “Lots of guys come in to print on clothing.”
You can bring on t-shirts, jeans, jackets, canvas bags- even socks- whatever you can think of- and personalize it with a logo, a photo of your kid, a favorite celebrity, a song lyric or a fun message.
The process is fairly simple with the hardest part being able to come up with an idea. Guerin explained that depending on how detailed the image is, the majority of time is spent prepping the final image in the software program Corel Draw and then weeding the design out once printed.
If you already have an idea and it’s simple, you can be in and out in two hours or less. Come in, download your image, import it into the software, print it and then use the heat transfer to press it onto your item of clothing.
Although DIY (do it yourself) is highly encouraged, there is always a designated staff member available to help at every step of the way because there is a slight learning curve to working the software and equipment. The library also offers tutorials on each of the machines via their Maker Monday series that travels to each neighborhood branch throughout the year.
The Maker Space is available to all patrons age 18 and up (14 and up with a guardian) that have a library card and are in good standing with the library. There is no charge to use the equipment and you only pay for the supplies you use, allowing patrons to come in and affordably experiment with equipment that they might not otherwise have access to.
In addition to designing images on clothes, you can also create buttons with the button maker, design a wooden medallion or a pair of earrings with the laser cutter, or use the 3D printer to design a custom bracelet.
Library staff have seen patrons get creative by bringing in their own materials like exotic snakeskin leathers used to engrave and customize the tongues of their sneakers, and the creation of laser engraved pins, buttonholes and glass beads. According to staff, with the right type of (approved) fabric, you can create anything And yes, you can also learn how to knit, sew, embroider and crochet- check with your neighborhood branch to see when and where classes are offered.
The Maker Space is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m- 5:30 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays are for walk-ins, but reservations are strongly encouraged for Mon.- Thursday by calling 216-623-2980. To find out more information visit the Cleveland Public Library’s website at www.cpl.org.