There was toothpaste and duct tape on the windowsill, car seat couches and computer monitors scattered around the shop.” I took out my notebook and jotted, “Don’t know what this is, but seems awesome.”
The hunch was right. Danger!Awesome is a laser etching shop. You give them something—an iPod, a skateboard, a flask—and a design and using a printer with a high-powered carbon dioxide laser, they etch the design on the object.
“If you want your mom’s face on an iPad, we can do that,” says co-owner Nadeem Mazen.
Founders Mazen and Ali Mohammad, both MIT grads, came to be in possession of three large laser cutter machines after directing a stop-motion music video for OK Go, which involved etching 3,000 pieces of toast. They wanted to create a space where the public would have access to the laser cutters, which are normally only found in labs.
“There’s no such thing as an ‘artist’s’ laser cutter,” Mazen explains.
Said artistic uses for lasers include cutting out stencils for graffiti or screen printing, or making “paintings” by etching photographs into spray painted glass. Additionally, Mazen and Mohammad want to support creative types by offering a “tattoo book” where customers could flip through designs by local artists to laser onto their electronics.
Their ultimate ambition for Danger!Awesome is to create an accessible product and build relationships with the community, with artists, and with people who want to make art but don’t.
“We’re starting to get people coming in who are saying, ‘I haven’t thought about art in a really long time, but I want so start producing,’” says Mazen.
The prices are affordable too, whether it’s a phone ($30-$50), an iPad ($50-$80) or a laptop ($100-$125). For other projects it’s $2 per cutting minute or $85 for an hour.
Projects can be as simple as a giant hashtag (which someone got recently) or as complex as a pop-up book. The possibilities are almost endless—with the exception PVC and polycarbonate, they can etch on any object as long as it fits in the 18 by 32 foot case.
The energy in the small shop is the kind you get from those smart, creative and goofy engineering types. Mazen and Mohammad are constantly shooting out ideas for future projects and zipping around on car seat couches with wheels. People filter in throughout the day—curious passersby, architects and their neighbors from the nearby Harvard Film Archive, bringing with them film reels to be lasered.
On one rainy afternoon, a game developer who is opening his business down the street stops by to introduce himself. He also brought a PlayStation 2 and a controller, hoping they can engrave it. “Cuz you’ll do anything right?” he asks.
Just give ‘em a couple of lasers.
[Danger!Awesome. 10 Prospect St. Central Square, Cambridge. 857.654-6556. Mon-Sun Noon-7pm. dangerawesome.co ]
As it turns out, there’s not much you can’t do with a couple of lasers. That’s the idea behind Danger!Awesome, a laser etching studio in Central Square, founded by Nadeem Mazen and Ali Mohammad. Watch the exclusive Dig video where they show their laser-etched products, share plans for supporting the local art community and whip out some giant mustaches.