The idea of this project was to continue the visual quality of the constellations and apply it to a piece of furniture.
I explored the idea of creating a rounded table around the circumference of a singular pole. I also wished to bring in the luminous qualities of the proposed Constellation Guide project in a different way.
I initially intended to create multiple table-tops which could be extended from a larger main table-top. These table-tops would form the shape of the Aquila constellation. I explored how the various table-tops might be assembled and made to extend outward from the main pole. I was conscious early on that a strong base and pole would be required to support such a construction. This sketch shows top and corresponding left views of the concept.
I considered the type of hinge required, similar to that of a ladder spread horizontally. This type of hinge (as left, sourced from Google images) proved incredibly difficult to source. I visited numerous hardware and supply stores in Dublin and Limerick but nothing was available. As a result, I decided to focus my efforts on making one solid large table-top.
In the beginning, I envisioned a much larger table 850mm in diameter, but worked at half-scale to prepare a prototype. I used the Shopbot CNC to create a table top of 425mm diameter on 25mm thick plywood. I employed a shovel mast purchased at Joe McKennas to support the table top.
At this point, I had come to the decision that the EL wire was better suited to the Aquila Table than the Constellation project. A pocket for the AA adaptor powering the EL wire was placed on the underside of the table-top.
I measured the mast incorrectly in the first prototype and in order to get a snug but not over-bearing fit, I prepared a test piece to find the correct diameter (38.5mm for wood, 39mm for acrylic). I spent time working out width and heights of the parts involved, considering the optimum height for its use eg. seated, serving, etc.
Weight was a key issue here. 25mm plywood is quite heavy, not including the additional parts acrylic engraving, rim, stopper) on top of it. I decided to both switch to 18mm and focus on a new width, 450mm.
I returned to the CNC to cut a number of parts for the table base. I used a combination of inner, outer cuts and drill holes to create elements I could stack. 6Mm and 25mm plywood was used. Some of the elements had quite a jagged cut because they were done with an upcut reather than down cut. These elements were sanded back in preparation for the final table.
The shovel mast was cut to a reduced size as I worked issues with balancing and supporting the table top. The tabs of the table base were removed with hammer and chisel.
I purchased 6mm dowel in a long strip to run through the four drill holes in the base. This would help the parts stack in the same position. I intended to cut them short but realised they had an interesting aesthetic when left in longer strips. I found that the dowel had a certain amount of flex and could be twisted around the mast. In secured the top position with an matching part from the base.
Stability was still a factor in balancing the weight of the table top. Before glueing the base in a fixed position, I considered cutting more parts for the base, making it taller. I had prepared a gap in the middle section to fill the base with sand or perhaps pebbles. I chose sharp sand with thicker consistency and found that this gave enough stability without need for a taller base. I used a series of clamps to secure the base while the glue was setting
Velcro was applied to the pocket to house the AA adaptor and a small hole was drilled through to the top of the table.
The EL wire was threaded through and positioned with small cuts of velcro (later removed). I then laser cut black card for the centre section of the table. This colour would proved contrast for the engraving (close up of the paper, EL wire and velcro above).
At this point the table was taking shape but the mast and EL wire still needed to be cut to size.
I set about illustrating a detailed engraving for the table top. I referenced maps on constellations in the northern hemisphere, placing them within a starfield. I also wished to provide perspective and depth within the image. A motif of montains from this vintage poster (http://a.co/cAA918y) was sampled and worked as a border for the table-top.
To provide yet more depth, I chose to engrave the mountains on the top of the 6mm acrylic and the constellations/stars on the bottom. It was necessary to invert the image of the constellations/stars when engraving with the laser-cutter.
The total engraving time on 6mm acrylic was 55minutes. With this final step complete, I placed the acrylic in position. And lit it up.