LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Daniel Seddiqui calls himself a modern-day American explorer but to be an explorer, you need to go where you've never been. Seddiqui has been to all 50 states — 16 times minimum.
And yet, on his fourth trip across the country, he's managed to venture into the unknown more than 60 times since April.
Seeing the whole country in a new way
"I made model cars in Detroit, made a foam Cheesehead in Milwaukee. I did 3D architectural modeling in Chicago," he says.
Seddiqui has pressed vinyl in Cleveland and rolled cigars in Tampa. In Milwaukee? He danced the polka.
"I'm learning about craftsmanship in every major city," he explained. The skills he's learned are reflective of the cities he's visited — 65 cities in all.
He's been off and on the road for almost a year.
The art of Neon in the city of sin
For Las Vegas, Seddiqui ventured off the Strip to an industrial building where tourists don't usually go.
"I've never seen neon gas and argon gas up close," he said from Hartlauer Signs, a Las Vegas company that makes neon signs. "And working with the bending of glass, have never done anything like that before."
For Las Vegas, he's making a neon sign.
Making neon signs is no joke. It can very be dangerous so Seddiqui was accompanied by a pro — Oscar Gonzalez.
"I started when I was 14. Now I'm 44," said Gonzalez, a glassblower of 30 years. He's been featured on 13 Action News before and he's crafted pieces on display at the Neon Museum.
"I like to see the reaction when they actually feel the glass, you know, and that completion of some bends," said Gonzalez of newcomers to the art form. As he explains, there are different kinds of bends you make in the glass when crafting a sign.
"Daniel [Seddiqui], he was doing some double bends and some drops with clear glass," he said. Double bends are the hardest.
There are 10 bends in the lettering that Gonzalez and Seddiqui created.
"I thought I'd make a sign spelling out LTM, which means Living the Map," said Seddiqui. "That's what my mission has always been for the past 15 years, to Live the Map."
Most of the things he's made this past year on his trip, including the sign, will go on display at his home.
"All those pieces will be forever keepsake and something that I will cherish because this is what makes up America."
The hardest thing to craft in America
Although the trip is wrapping up, he's not done creating. Seddiqui expects to publish a book in March called "Piecing Together America." He says it will showcase the best of the cities and the craftsmanship each city is known for.
With 65 new experiences under his belt, I wanted to know what the hardest thing to make was.
"Latte art," he said immediately, without hesitation. "Latte art in Seattle, Washington was so difficult that I was very frustrated. I usually don't leave a place frustrated, but that time like, what did I do so many mistakes? So delicate."
He says the experience made him appreciate it that much more.
"This makes you appreciate everything. It makes you look at things differently, whether it's latte art or signs on the Strip. It's people's passions and their pride."
Learn more about Seddiqui and his adventures on LivingTheMap.com.