The Shiny Seed at Grand Rapids ArtPrize

pnctreeIf you’ve been at Maker Works during the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed anything from large, aluminum-wrapped branches, to shiny stainless steel leaves, to glass and copper “fruit” glowing bright with colorful LED lights scattered throughout the shop.

These are all pieces of an eighteen-foot-tall tree made by The Shiny Seed, a collaborative led by Maker Works staff member Kc Dixon and member Gene Foulk. The project has also been made possible by the work of many volunteers.

The various pieces of the tree were created at Maker Works, using tools like the PCB engraver, the ShopBot CNC router, the Bridgeport mill, soldering irons, metal lathes, and the laser cutter. The team then worked together to assemble all the pieces and make the tree come to life.

The tree is on display at the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition from September 21 – October 9.

Stop by ArtPrize to see the tree at the corner of Pearl Street and Monroe Avenue, just outside the PNC Plaza, then cast your vote for your favorite exhibits!

To see more photos and updates of the project, click here to checkout The Shiny Seed Facebook page.

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Member Project: Steve’s Incredible Mechanical Calendar

Maker Works member Steve wanted to make a wooden clock.

But when he came across drawings online for a “perpetual calendar”–a mechanical calendar that would know the end of each month and advance itself forward, while also tracking the day of the week, the day of the month, astrological signs, and the moon’s phases–he knew it was too unique a project to pass up.

He purchased the drawings, and used the ShopBot, Epilog Laser, and metal lathes to cut the wood, etch the wooden pieces, and turn the metal parts, respectively.

While many small pieces with precise cutting specifications made the project a challenge, Steve ultimately created an incredible project that is both functional and artistically intriguing.

Check out a video with him showing how the calendar works here:

If you’re interested in learning how to use the tools that Steve used to make his mechanical calendar, click here to check out the Maker Works class schedule.

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See a Felt Plush Monster Come to Life Right Before Your Eyes

Will we see you at our Felt Plush Monster kids’ workshop on July 21?

You’ll get to use laser-cut felt parts, hand stitching, and machine sewing to create your own terrific tiny creature. At the end of this workshop, you’ll walk away with an awesome monster as well as basic stitching skills to carry your interests further. Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by innovative fiber artist and milliner Je’Tone Alexander and CNC Embroidery Enthusiast Eric Rudolph.

Thursday, July 21 | 9am-12pm

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Ann Arbor Health Hacks – June 24-26

Ann Arbor Health Hacks ( is a non-profit organization in Ann Arbor that is geared towards building the community and bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to develop new ideas in healthcare innovation through healthcare hackathons.

The topic for this year’s hack is Prototyping Disease Prevention. The hackathon reception and networking social will be the evening of Friday, June 24, and then Saturday, June 25-Sunday, June 26 will involve panel speakers, idea-pitching, and hacking/making. Registration for the weekend hackathon can be found here: ( or at

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Member Meetings are now Quarterly! The next one is July 21st at 7pm

Join us for our Quarterly Member Meeting, led by Maker Works co-founders Tom Root and Dale Grover. In it, they’ll cover:

– Maker Works Business Scoreboard and Profit & Loss
– Membership Options
– Announcements & Upcoming Changes

If you are or have ever been a member, we would love to see you there!

There will no longer be a June member meeting.

Other upcoming Member Meetings are scheduled for: October 20th, 2016 | January 19th, 2017 | April 20th, 2017.

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Join us for Summer Camps at Maker Works! July 18 – 22, 2016

Check out our fun, innovative summer camps that we just know you and your camper will love.

Each session is a half-day (three-hour) workshop that will be held in either the morning or afternoon. And, you can mix and match as many morning and afternoon workshops as you choose! You do not have to sign up for the whole week. The workshops will take place the week of July 18-22.

Check out a brief description of each workshop below! Space is limited, and the last day to register is July 12. Click here to sign up.

bikeshelfBuild Your Own Bike Shelf

Monday, July 18 | 1pm-4pm

Create a custom bike rack out of weather-resistant wood that can hang in your garage or house! We’ll use hand tools and power tools to cut the wood and assemble the pieces. At the end of the workshop, you’ll have your own bike rack to take home with you, along with some familiarity with basic wood shop tools. Ages: 10+.

This workshop is taught by woodworking wizard Al McWaters and jack of all trades Eric Rudolph.

fairydoorThe Magic Behind Fairy Doors

Tuesday, July 19 | 1pm-4pm

Learn the magic behind making your very own fairy door! You’ll use a variety of tools to cut, shape, and customize your fairy door, then decorate it with different finishes. Feel free to bring personal decorations to really make it your own! We’ll also go over how to install your fairy door once it’s home. Ages: 6+.

This workshop is taught by ambassadors to the fun and whimsical, Kc Dixon and Josh Williams.

costumeCreative Costume Props

Wednesday, July 20 | 1pm-4pm

Make your own custom props like swords, lasers, weapons, crowns, and more! First, we’ll create drawings of our props and plan them, and then we’ll use a variety of materials from the ScrapBox to make them come to life! Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by enthusiastic costume designers Josh Williams and Kc Dixon.


Sew a Felt Plush Monster

Thursday, July 21 | 9am-12pm

Use laser-cut felt parts, hand stitching, and machine sewing to create your own terrific tiny creature. At the end of this workshop, you’ll walk away with an awesome monster as well as basic stitching skills to carry your interests further. Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by innovative fiber artist and milliner Je’Tone Alexander and CNC Embroidery Enthusiast Eric Rudolph.

ForgedBraceletPromoImageForge Your Own Copper Bracelet

Thursday, July 21 | 1pm-4pm

Create your own forged bracelet out of copper wire and copper sheet! You’ll learn metalsmithing techniques like forming, forging, and finishing. Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by master metalworkers and jewelry designers Kc Dixon and Ben VanHouweling.

craneOrigami Robotics

Friday, July 22 | 9am-12pm

Learn how to fold a traditional Origami crane and augment it with shape-shifting electronics! We’ll explore the basics of paper folding, electronics, and how the combination allow our creatures to move. Starting with a piece of paper and a few electrical components, you’ll go home with your own animated origami creation! Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by origami artist Beth Johnson and electronics dabbler Josh Williams.

lawnMetal Lawn Ornaments

Friday, July 22 | 1pm-4pm

Create an incredible metal sculpture out of plasma-cut parts. We’ll be spot welding, bending, grinding, and shaping the metal to create the perfect sculpture. There will also be a plasma cutter demonstration. Ages: 8+.

This workshop is taught by ambassadors to the fun and whimsical, Kc Dixon and Josh Williams.

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Join us at the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, June 4

We’re gearing up for the 8th Annual

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire

Held at the Ann Arbor District Library – Downtown Branch

Saturday, June 4 | 10a – 4p

Maker Works is ecstatic to be an exhibitor at this year’s Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire, where we’ll be putting on our Great Maker Race. Young makers will get to create miniature cars from start to finish. They’ll draw the shape they want the car to be, cut it out of foam, attach it to a base with wheels, decorate the car, and then race it down a one-of-a-kind, custom-built three-lane track.There will be many other exciting demos and hands-on activities, too. Here’s some of the exhibits that will be there:

  • A wind energy exhibit from the Hands On Museum
  • Robotics demonstrations by FIRST Robotics 
  • Minecraft programming from GameStart
  • Learn to solder from All Hands Active
… And much more!
The Faire will take place inside the building as well as outside in the library’s parking lot.
Find out more at
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NEW VCarve Classes Coming Up!

Do you have some experience with VCarve, the official ShopBot Tools Inc. software used with the ShopBot CNC Router and other milling machines, and want to learn more? Check out these exciting new VCarve 8.0 classes held in the shop! They’re taught by Thea Eck, expert ShopBot instructor with over 5 years of experience. Click here to find out more and to register.


Working with 3D files: Importing and Toolpathing

Thursday, May 5, 7-9pm
Friday, May 6, 9:30am-12pm

VCarve Pro 8.0 now has 3D editing and toolpathing capabilities. This 2-hour workshop introduces you to the ‘Import 3D models’ command that can import STLs and other 3D files types, as well as the clip art folder, which has an array of free 3D files. Learn how to edit your 3D files and set up your file for 1-sided machining. You will also learn the two 3D toolpaths as well as a few different strategies to cut down on machining time.


Simple Signs: Utilizing the Text and Texture options

Wednesday, May 18, 1:30-3:30pm
Thursday, May 19, 7-9pm

Creating decorative signs in VCarve Pro is a lot of fun and a breeze when you understand how to utilize the Text commands and VCarve Pro 8.0’s new texture drawing option. This 2-hour workshop will introduce you to creating and editing text and then applying various textural components onto a design. We will also take a look at how to set up your file if you want to use the Vcarve toolpath option.


Production Settings: Navigating Nesting, Merged Toolpaths & Other Possibilities

Wednesday, May 25, 1:30-3:30pm:
Friday, May 27, 9:30-11:30am

Learning how to use the various production options in VCarve Pro can vastly reduce machining time and increase production rates. This 2-hour workshop will introduce you to a few of them including the Nesting Command, the new Merged Toolpaths option, and creating a pressure fit jig. We will also look at how to quickly create a complex project by using some of the ‘Offset and Layout’ design options.


Click here to access the calendar and reserve your spot!

Or, give us a call at (734) 222-4911.

Each class must have at least 4 people to run.

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Make-N-Take Your Own Cutting Board!

We’re excited to be offering two “make-n-take” style classes where you’ll get to improve your woodworking knowledge with one-on-one instruction, and walk away with beautiful cutting boards.

The classes are taught by long-time Maker Works member and woodworker extraordinaire, Chris Riecker.

The entire process of making the boards will be covered from beginning to end, from selecting what types of woods work best to the which finishes to use once they’re all done.

In the Long Grain Cutting Boards class, you’ll make a board where the wood grain is oriented horizontally. This means that when the board is used, the surface being chopped on is the edge of the wood.

In the End Grain Cutting Boards class, the grain of the wood is oriented vertically, so the knife comes in contact with the end grain of the wood. This style of cutting board is also sometimes called a butcher block cutting board.

The processes for making end grain cutting boards is similar to long grain ones, except that making an end grain board requires an extra set of cutting, gluing, and clamping.

In the photos above, the long grain cutting board is pictured at left and the end grain board is on the right.

Woodworking skills you’ll learn in both classes include: milling, gluing/clamping, shaping, and ripping/crosscutting with the table saw.

Each attendee will walk away with the cutting board they built during the class.

Pre-requisites: Attendees must be checked out on on the wood shop’s jointer, planer, and table saw.

Woodworking Skill Development: Long Grain Cutting Boards

Monday, May 9, 6-9pm and Tuesday, May 10, 6-8pm
Monday, June 6, 6-9pm and Tuesday, June 7, 6-8pm

Woodworking Skill Development: End Grain Cutting Boards

Monday, May 23, 6-9pm, Tuesday, May 24, 6-8pm, and Wednesday, May 25, 6-8:30pm

Monday, June 20, 6-9pm, Tuesday, June 21, 6-8pm, and Wednesday, June 22, 6-8:30pm

Click here to access our calendar and sign up!

Or, give us a call at (734) 222-4911.

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The Endless Possibilities of the Epilog Laser Cutter

The Epilog Laser Cutter is one of the most popular tools in the shop, and oftentimes one of the first tools members use.

If you have a digital design, image, or text that you want to either engrave cut out of a material, the laser may just be your go-to tool. Wood, acrylic, paper, glass, and cloth can all be laser-cut and laser-etched to great effect.

Once you have a digital file of your design, you’ll use CorelDRAW software to communicate the details of the design to the laser. Think of it like drawing a picture: your brain has the image in mind, and communicates with your hand, which sketches the image.

To get started on the laser, just sign up for the checkout class. In the class, you’ll learn how to operate the laser safely, and you’ll be introduced to the CorelDRAW software.

Click here to sign up for an Epilog Laser check out class.

If you’re looking to learn even more about the specifics of using CorelDRAW, take a look at our class: “CorelDRAW for the Laser and other Machines”. In this class, you’ll learn how to use the software in-depth and how to create artwork you want.

Click here to sign up for “CorelDRAW for the Laser and other Machines”.

Just what sorts of things can be done on the laser? Check out some of the things our amazing members have made:

Chocolate molds, swizzle sticks, and other special event items

Acrylic swizzle sticks being cut on the laser

Acrylic swizzle sticks being cut on the laser

As Maker Works member Shabier Raffee prepared to tie the knot with his fiance Samantha, he decided, quite literally, to take the matter into his own hands. In true maker style, he carefully planned and executed every last detail of his wedding and its decorations.

For many of the items, he chose to use the laser. With this tool, he made an intricate rubber stamp, wooden laser-engraved invitations, an acrylic letterpress, and even 300 acrylic swizzle sticks.

Click here to see more photos of Shabier’s work.


Epic Costumes and Accessories

With the laser cutter, you have the ability to create extremely detailed designs in a very simple way.

This is certainly the case with Alexis Colombo’s awe-inspiring Maleficent costume, based on the lead character from the movie of the same name.

Each of the feathers were cut out using the laser, and if you looked closely you can see etching on each one.

The laser also lends itself well to cutting designs out of fabric. On the bag below, staff member  Je’Tone used the laser to do just that. After the fabric was cut, she adhered it to the contrasting background fabric using an iron-on mesh adhesive. With the two fabrics now adhered to one another, she was able to cut and sew them into a bag.


Really Cool Custom Signage

When it came time for his wife, Elisa, to exhibit a science experiment at the Grand Rapids ArtPrize competition, Matt Fromboluti that would engage visitors and encourage them to stop by the booth.He used the laser to cut acrylic for the sign, and incorporated LEDs to really make it glow.Check a time lapse video of making the arrow sign here:

Elisa’s experiment is now on display at Maker Works! Stop by and check it out. Find more information about it here.

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