Maker Faire Detroit returns to the Henry Ford on July 27th and 28th, and as always, numerous projects by i3Detroit members will be on display. Among them, Dan Madrid’s laser-cut bathymetric maps:
For the past several months, Dan has been a frequent sight in front of i3’s laser cutters, making plywood representations of the lakes we all know and love. It started as a hobby project, but he soon started getting requests and selling his work, following a path familiar to many of i3’s members. He’s started a small business called Madrid Crafted LLC, and most of his work is Michigan-focused.
As an MTU grad and still a frequent visitor to the UP, Dan’s most popular piece by far is Lake Superior, shown here on the wall of the Keweenaw Brewing Company tap room in Houghton:
But Dan wasn’t always an i3Detroit member — as a Ford employee, his first experience with laser-cut art was at TechShop. “They had a great woodshop, but what really hit me was the laser cutters.” The experience was eye-opening, but short-lived. After TechShop closed in late 2017, he searched for another nearby makerspace, and found The Village Workshop in Northville, close to his home in Livonia. There, woodworking and laser-cutting went from a hobby to a real side business, but The Village Workshop likewise shut down in early 2019. Dan went on the search again and found i3Detroit, a longer drive but a totally different community.
“Techshop and The Village Workshop were great places, I don’t want to disparage them, but when I came here there was a much greater sense of community. There it was much more like a business transaction, like I pay you, and I get access to your shop. There wasn’t — at least when I was there — there wasn’t much of a community aspect. When I came here, people come here to do projects, but they also come here to build relationships with the other people here. I didn’t experience that at the other places. … I know I see other people working on things and I know I can ask, hey what’s that? And that sparks some curiosity and discussion.”
That community is what drove Dan to show off his work at Maker Faire for the first time: “Having started a small business, my goal this year was to go to one farmer’s market, fair, something like that. And the nice thing is, there’s a community aspect to this, so it’s not just me finding a place on my own and figuring it out, we get to do it together.”