I-Spy Table

March 27, 2014

Journal, Prototype

I can’t believe I’ve never talked about the I-Spy table. Let me explain how it came to be.

A long time ago at an auction Lloyd found an old wooden architect’s draft table – the kind that tilts and has a light and all of that. I thought it would be perfect for a light table in my classroom. We took the legs off and I built a base that hold some baskets for storing science stuff. My plan was to paint the underside of the glass white so the light would be diffused and the kids wouldn’t blind themselves playing there, but I worried about the original glass on the table. I even went to a local glass place and asked for some very thick hammer proof shatterproof glass, but the guy assured me that what I already had was going to last for ever. Sure enough, it lasted a couple of years.

Until one day somebody dropped something on it. Of course it cracked. (It didn’t shatter – thank goodness.)

*sigh* I hate when stuff breaks. My ‘temporary’ solution? I screwed some MDF fiberboard to the bottom of the tabletop until I could get some replacement glass. We used it like that – as just a table – for a shameful number of years (4? 5?)

In the meantime, Lloyd and I had been to an Open House at a beautiful gigantic log home. It was all rustic and amazing, and they had a small bar upstairs overlooking the great room. The top of the bar had matchbooks embedded in a kind of resin. That just looked so cool. Well, I thought that could be how we ‘fixed’ the table.

We collected little bits of stuff. I laid pieces of wallpaper over the MDF, scattered some trinkets about, then mixed up a batch of two-part epoxy that you buy buy the quart. We poured in on and helped it set. (The directions said that you needed to either pass fire over the liquid as it set – no joke – or breathe on it. The carbon dioxide helped the tiny bubbles in the epoxy to pop. Good think Lloyd and I did this over a weekend because we got a little H*I*G*H from the fumes.) After the first layer set, we added more trinkets and stickers, then another layer of epoxy. That was cool because some things look like they’re floating.

Overall, it was a good endeavor. It breathed new life into that table, and the kids are learning how to play I-Spy. There are a couple of downfalls – 1, it doesn’t take heat well, so I’ve made a couple of marks in it when I set down a cup of coffee, and 2) it is all scratched up and needs another layer, but that’s a job for a much younger Lauren.


About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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4 Responses to “I-Spy Table”

  1. Peggy Said on:

    That is one cool table!! Your cleverness is off the charts on this one! Your students sure are blessed with all you do!

    And I don’t remember having any I Spy books from my childhood…but those remind me of the Highlights hidden pictures. I LOVED those!! Still do. I recently found an online version of it. Please don’t tell my boss.



  2. Kristi Said on:

    THAT is an AWESOME table! Thank you for the detailed post, and I would love to have seen you and Lloyd HIGH from the fumes.


  3. Brad Said on:

    My dad encased some items with that acrylic stuff when I was a kid. I think I recall pennies? A black widow spider? I was fascinated by it.

    I bought some a couple of years ago thinking I would encase something, but I couldn’t decide, and the can sat around long enough that it hardened on its own without the catalyst.


  4. CousinRachel Said on:

    This would make such a uber cool coffee table! Lloyd and Sam should keep an eye out for another one of these starter kit pieces.


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