It's almost here: GeekCraft Expo Midwest's Spring Thing! Come to the Madison Masonic Center March 3-4 and explore all kinds of handmade geeky crafts—like the laser-cut pieces by exhibitor Custom Processing Unlimited!
We chatted with Custom Processing Unlimited's Akai Coit (who's also a member of local makerspace The Bodgery) about how he got started and what he'll be bringing to the show this weekend!
GeekCraft Expo: Can you tell us about your shop?
Akai Coit: Well, I make cool stuff with lasers. There's not much to be said about the shop in and of itself. It's a small workshop that is full of materials waiting to be cut and pieces waiting to be painted and finished for the next event I'm doing, the next online purchase, or the next friend who calls and asks if they can pick up an item or two. It's not a storefront, so there aren't many people that drop by. It's more like an artist's studio.
GCE: What drew you to laser cutting and engraving?
AC: Initially I connected with a local makerspace and was shown how to use a laser cutter there. I found myself at a crossroads after I completed my first major project (the recumbent tadpole tricycle that I'm sitting on in the picture I sent of myself). I could either get into 3D printing or laser cutting. I compared the two and found 3D printing to be a bit too slow and cumbersome for my tastes, and found that laser cutting drew my attention because I felt it gave me a more interesting platform to create with.
In a lot of cases, I knew I'd have to think outside of the box in order to make the ideas I was forming in my head, and that challenge intrigued me more than anything else. I was taught how to use the machine by one of the members after I'd joined, and my first laser cutting project was a cell phone stand for myself. I used it fairly often and people wondered where I'd gotten it from. I told them that I made it myself, and they started asking for my card and if they could purchase one. I made a few and sold those, got a few custom orders after that, then it pretty much just mushroomed into what I'm doing today.
GCE: What are your most popular pieces?
AC: I'd say my most popular pieces as of writing this would be my mystery boxes fashioned after the question blocks from Super Mario Bros. What probably gets the most attention, though, are the dice bowls I make. They are very intricate in design.
GCE: What are your favorite geeky movies, TV shows, comics, or video games?
AC: I'm a big fan of the Matrix series, and a real anime fan (popular stuff as well as obscure). I tend to lean toward old-school games more than anything else. So I'd have to say my personal favorite game is Chrono Trigger. I love games with long story lines and lots of hidden treasures. This game in particular had a major secret that was found out no more than a few years ago, and this game is from my childhood.
GCE: What is your favorite convention snack?
AC: I can't honestly say that I have a favorite convention snack. I like a little bit of everything.
GCE: What are you bringing to GeekCraft Expo Midwest this spring?
AC: I will be bringing lots of cool stuff made with lasers! Some of my newest pieces are pulp comic book covers from waayyy back in the day engraved as plaques. This is a fun new project I started this past week and has shown some very nice results.
Big thanks to Akai for answering all of our questions. Make sure to stop by his space this weekend at GeekCraft Expo Midwest's Spring Thing!