Friday, July 16, 2004

The Lightbox Project

Current setting: An old messy storeroom.
Description: A cupboard I didn't really want, papers, dust, old boxes strewn on top of one another. Fungus and mold growing where the light doesn't shine. It is essentially a store room. Nothing more, nothing less. There is virtually no room to stand, no room to sit.
Objective: To clean up, throw away unnecessary stuff, insulate the windows, and seal the window with a custom lightbox to create an illusion of space.
The Lightbox Project: 2 plywood boards, ratio calculated, wired with 8 E14 energy saving bulbs, total energy consumption not exceeding 40Watts, and total weight not exceeding 20kgs, soldered, insulated wiring, custom paint tones, custom mounts from solid wood.
The main attraction of the entire project would definitely be the lightbox. It started almost 2 weeks ago, with procurement of raw materials, and the calculations on the drawing board. I guess it wasn't a matter of whether it can be done or not, I think that whenver I start a project, I want it to be completed, by hook or by crook. The challenges that lies ahead are the things that will consume the most time, but just as well, would be the things that I would learn most from.
I guess it was a long time coming. The store room was not supposed to be a store room at all. It was supposed to be a multi-function room, where I have my wardrobe, and there was a table where you could just have tea, or eat. But somehow it escalated to become a store room. Clothes everywhere, papers everywhere. If I was going to make it into a usable studio, it would require a lot of work. About 2 weeks worth of it, as I have discovered.
So the first thing started with the buying of plywood. There wasn't much alternatives, since I wanted something strong, light and familiar to me, so I went to one of the nearby factory/store and bought 2 pieces of it, trucked it back the my workshop, and started immediately. The plywood had to be treated first with some Wood Treatment. If not it has a tendency for termite infections, something I don't need anytime in the future.
Getting the right color tone was not easy. Selecting from a regular color chart was not an option. I wanted something bright, subtle enough, but not overly loud. And it had to complement the rest of the furniture in my apartment, and also the light that reflects off it has to be a factor as well. So I turned to the Jotun color charts (they have 10,000 combinations), and picked 2 matching ones. I wasn't about to repaint the wall for this project, I didn't want to take a month to do this, so I just went with as little work as possible.
While waiting for the wood treatment to set in, I started creating the hardwood mounts. It was quite easy with the drop saw that wasn't mine. I guess I would've taken longer if I didn't have that convenience. Anyway creating the mounts wasn't easy, since they can only be 2 inches in length, I could only use E14 mounts, not the more commonly available E27 types. And since its that small, it had a tendency to split while I'm drilling holes and making grooves in it. But anyway, that took nearly a day, and I was making them till late at night, by that time my eyes were all blur from all the sawdust and the fatigue, and the hunger. And I was just gettting started.
Painting the plywood was quite fun, it was actually relaxing. After coating with with a layer of primer, the colors turned out beautifully. Just like I expected it to be. Then came the wiring. Now that was a real killer. with 8 mounts, I needed to make sure that they were soldered, insulated, and then patched into a main wire so that they are all sharing one plug point. However, if I used regular 25W bulbs, it would run up to 200Watts. That was a bit too much, so I settled for the 5W energy saving ones, they ran cooler, and saved me some electricity. But initial investments were considerably higher.
Luckily for me, my calculations were accurate. So it ended up perfect. Oh what a great feeling that is. &