9. The Lion Stand
My friend Che recently treated himself to a PlayStation 4, after seeing my <Infinity Shadow Box> he wanted to know if I could make a stand for his new game system. His request was that the PS4 fit on top with enough room underneath to store remotes, games or controllers. He really only wanted two legs and a countertop but when I asked if there was anything in particular he wanted, design-wise. He gave me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted but I felt like there was more. When I inquired further his hesitant reply was for a piece of plexiglass, red preferably. Hearing the restrained excitement in his voice let me know that he REALLY wanted that plexiglass. I consider myself a benevolent maker so how could I deny that kind of joy?! Plus I like a challenge...and options ...and custom shit!
I had some old plywood (20.5" x 16" x .5") laying around and since I've never worked with it before it now seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out what that plywood-life be like.
After a quick sanding, the dingy plywood revealed a surprisingly beautiful canvas.
I confirmed the size with Che and marked up the dimensions. The green paper represents the space taken by the machine (10" x 11") the goal here is to figure out its placement and relative size between the stand and the PS4.
After some discussion, we decided to bring in the stand’s top surface to 2'x 2' for a more square appearance.
I also learned that Che had plans to wrap his PlayStation in an Island/Rasta inspired vinyl skin. I decided to carry that design into the stand. I found this geometric lion graphic online and fell in love with it. The shapes felt organic and intricate and I found myself transfixed by the lion's gaze. I had to recreate it.
Previously I'd tried my hand (unsuccessfully) at transferring printed images to wood. A process that uses acetone and laser printed images.
But for this project, I didn't need a perfect transfer just enough to trace the shadowy outline of the ink with a felt tip pen. With summer approaching my time in the classroom/shop coming to an end. This time constraint was making me reconsider the image I’d chosen. How do I proceed? Change to a less detailed image that I wouldn't love as much? Or burn in the image or paint in the shapes...
By this point, I'd spent a lot of time routing the underside so I could inlay a piece of plexiglass. I felt like my only option was to go big or go home. So...
I drilled small holes into every shape I was going to remove using a drill press. These holes would allow me to get the scroll saw blade inside every shape to cut them out.
I would have to remove the blade and thread it through the next drilled hole cut the shape then repeat the process over and over and over ... all while worrying about staying within my lines and not overcutting. There were a lot of thin cuts that had to be made.
Please understand by the end my nerves were shot. The closer I came to completing the face the more treacherous cutting each following shape became. I would watch as the oscillating saw blade would vibrate fragile slivers of wood left from previous cuts praying that they wouldn't snap off.
Whew! I estimate the total time I spent on the scroll saw was about 6 hours. You just can't rush these cuts. I still needed to following up with a drill to bring smaller details like the eyes and whiskers to life.
Let me tell you I was very happy to finish the final result was great!
I decided to use a wood-burning kit to add Che's name on the left leg. I attached both legs to the top with glue and clamps...
...then I engraved the remaining uncut shapes with a rotary tool, stained the face black, then traced the engravings with gold paint. The school year had come to the end and I had managed with a lot of late nights to get the stand to a point where I could stop and finish at home.
I love new plexiglass!
Notice the pre drilled holes in the corners that will be used to secure the plexiglass underneath the stand
Bare witness to the pure unadulterated, untouched, unblemished plexiglass-- I can't lie even looking at this picture gives me such a satisfying feeling.
I wanted to match the tri-color gradient. Gathering all three stained glass colors was a side quest on its own but once Ii had them all I could paint! I thought my best bet to replicate the color was to tape off the center point for the yellow section
Unfortunately, it came out looking like the Italian flag ☹ I now had a distinct textured border that was not going to smoothly change color from one to the next.
I tried anyway and the results were not pleasing... So, fighting the air I resigned myself to removing the paint and starting over.
After a lot of mineral spirits and a ton of elbow grease, I tried again using the measurements as a guideline and not a hard and fast border.
This is a photo of me looking super concerned that the gradient and opacity of the plexiglass came out ok and wasn't too faint. I made peace with the results.
I wanted the regality of the lion to be a sensory experience so I covered the underside of the stand with felt for a lush change in texture.
After staining the back black and trimming the felt to cover the inside of the lip of the recess, I was ready to drop the plexiglass in.
Unfortunately, this did not go according to plan as I used spray glue which comes out like silly string, and not an adhesive mounting spray which acts more like spray paint (sigh!) I tried to just go with it but soon found out I'd only made matters worse. I ended up having to de-glue the stand then scrub and repaint the plexiglass for the 3rd time. 😤😡😖😭
I can't lie, I tried to make this look sexy from every angle. It was worth the effort:-- fighting the air, redoing the glass ... the cleaning and painting... this was mission accomplished!
with the glass super glued and nailed into place. There is nothing left to do except add by Orson Swalt Mardan
There you have it a stand fit for a king...
...a lion king. 🤓😿🤦🏾♂️
This was a lot of work attending to the many details of this piece but it was worth it for the final result. When I presented the stand to Che (actual footage of that moment to the right) he asked me if I was psychic because it resembled a tattoo he had wanted to get. I had no idea but once he showed me the sketch I could see why he asked.
He did tell me there was one problem with the stand. It was so nice that he could not cover the design with the gaming system. The PS4's new home would be underneath the stand. I had exceeded his expectations and my own in the process. How do you know when you have crafted intrigue? When your psychically created accent piece becomes the centerpiece instead. ✌🏾