Tablecloth sans table as table

This low-slung table, created from a woven tablecloth petrified with sort of resin, may not be a retail product, but it could always get work as a set piece in an Aqua Net commercial. If I were to try to build one, what sort of resin should I use? [Pink Wolf via Freshome]
This entry was posted in Furniture and Lighting. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Tablecloth sans table as table

  1. SherryArt says:

    An Italian ‘nonna’ (grandmother) who loved us came from Genoa to New York around 1964. She made bowls from crocheted doilies. You simply dip the doiley in a bowl of starch and then mold it over a bowl. When it dries it is the shape of the bowl. One could do the same with a table. Soak the crocheted table cloth in a bucket of starch and then mold it over a real table until it is dry.

  2. Anonymous says:

    @ #22 bardfinn

    Don’t know about the states, but in EU designs are protected. It is called unregistered design rights.

    I repeat, for me the offender here is the “Help re-make a resin-stiffened tablecloth” post on BB, not the informative and interesting resin discussion. Nor the original question of OP.

    As a side note, in smaller scale similar long lasting effects can be achieved by dipping crocheted or other tissue based things in liquid clay and then baking them. The tissue would burn out leaving a ceramic version.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Try Paverpol. Its a product for making fabric sculptures. It air dries “rock hard” and if you add Paverplast, it’s waterproof. I’ve never used it before, but that’s what I’m planning to get for my project which is similar to this one.
    Dharma has a very informative site, lots of instructions for how to use stuff. I’m not here to plug them specifically, but since you folks were looking for solutions, and I didn’t see it mentioned, I’d thought I’d make you aware of the existence of this stuff.


  4. Zieroh Tardy says:

    Another vote for epoxy. The trick will be to find one that is fairly close to clear, as some epoxies will cure with a yellowish tint. General purpose epoxy is not especially stinky, and can easily be done indoors with an open window and a fan. I wouldn’t think you’d need one of the more exotic epoxies for this project.

    A word of warning that hasn’t been mentioned yet: avoid the temptation to use acetone to clean the epoxy off of your tools. Acetone will carry the epoxy straight into your bloodstream and is the likely culprit in epoxy allergies. Simply treat all tools that come in contact with the epoxy (paint brushes, mixing cups, etc) as disposable.

  5. Daemon says:

    When I see this, for some reason, I just can’t help but think about a kotatsu.

  6. paulatz says:

    I totally agree with #26: you need some sort of epoxy resin, but not plaster which will surely be too thick to moist the tissue deeply.

    The problem with that stuff is that once you’ve mixed up the two components it start to solidify quite fast, so it may take a bit of practice to apply it to the entire tablecloth.

    Applying it in patches probably is a good idea, so you can prepare a pint of epoxy, apply it and then repeat.

    You may be tempted to soak the tablecloth completely in the first component and then add the low-concentration one, I can tell out of experience that it will never solidify.

    I personally would prepare a stand of cheap wood planks, cover it with a thick polyester sheet secured with a staple gun. Oh, and I would do it outdoor!

  7. avraamov says:

    this method has been a great inspiration to me. i first saw it with marcel wanders ‘crochet table’. i think that version makes use of epoxy – but what’s particularly nice is the modernist/brutalist cube shape constructed out of a completely counter-intuitive material. by the way – the exothermic warning with epoxy goes just as well with polyester resin, especially if over catylised. it’s a lot cheaper then epoxy though…

    if you’re using a white material, it might be worth trying jesmonite, which is a water-borne acrylic plaster mix, and cures very hard. alternatively there are clear water-borne acrylics which are very low vapour and might be less nasty than epoxy to use, but they are very pricey.

  8. william says:

    While I couldn’t help but wonder what a kotatsu is.


    By any method, this is going to be an unholy mess. The result will be cool but you gotta really want it.

  10. mnkythndr says:

    My pants, that I am wearing as I write this, are pretty well impregnated with West System epoxy resin. Truth be told, they’re impregnated in patches. But none the less, they, are direct evidence of what West System does to cotton pants. And it’s a little odd. The fibers swell, quite a bit. And the patches look WET.

    If I were going to use epoxy resin, I’d hold with commenter MABWIDDERSHINS, West System 207. It’s designed for clear coating fancy looking wooden boats. Most other resin/hardener combos with leave you with a rather off-white table/cloth.

    But I wouldn’t use epoxy or polyester or any other “fiberglass resin”. Unless the wet shiny plastic look is attractive to you.

    If for some un-godly reason, you do decide to use epoxy, let me know, I’ve got a bevy of ideas.


  11. Anonymous says:

    if its mostly coytton or linen, you can use a celar drying waterproof woodglue (like those used in ship building) diluted 50% in water. . put plastic sheeting over your mold object, and stretch the wet material over it and let dry a couple of days… it will dry hard, stiff, and Matte.

    if its polyester or rayon, you can use one of the fiberglas resins, but test first, a lot of the resins will melt poly blend textiles.. FG resins are always going to cure glossy.

  12. devophill says:

    I can’t believe I read that wiki on the kotatsu (something I’d never heard of until now) about 30 seconds before I clicked on this link (scroll down) that I saw on Offworld. It’s a lattice of coincidence… someone says “plate”, or “shrimp”, or “plate of shrimp”…

  13. LYNDON says:

    One could give starch a go just to see. I’ve been impressed by buckram and the thickness of the fibres here would enhance that – you might need some light reinforcing for the top.

    And, come to think of it, it would be entirely un-spill-proof.

  14. DWittSF says:

    Back in the day, I had a friend who assisted the artist Muriel Castanis, who’s work involved creating draped figures like this, and then fixing the material.

    She used resin, afair, and it was pretty nasty stuff. Wear a mask!

  15. mabwiddershins says:

    I sent this post to Joe Parker at West System epoxy, and he says:”I suggest [West System] 105/207, have the person order it directly from me so it is really fresh which means no color.”
    Here is the contact info: Joe Parker , (989) 684-7286 x1241 Tell him “Barbara Jean” sent you!

  16. nedend says:

    Hmmm a great peice of material might work better than the crotched(sic) version, where is a good fabric shop.

  17. Fee says:

    This technique is known among crafters as Fabric Mache,although there isn’t a lot of mache-ing involved. I have used PVA glue-soaked fabric, and it does come up quite stiff, but I am not sure it would be robust enough to allow something stiffened in that way to work as a table.

    I may be stating the bleeding obvious here, but is there a reason why you haven’t asked the person who made the table in the picture?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I tried epoxy resin on cotton and it stiffened but it easily broke like it burned the inside of the cotton. How do you stiffen cotton with epoxy resin? Can you use glue on the cotton and then apply epoxy resin to harden it more?

  19. DeborahSanger says:

    I would try covering the ‘table’ you intend to use as a former with cling film, then laying the cloth over then using a clear polyester resin painting the resin into the cloth. Alternatively soak the cloth first in the catalysed resin, then rolling out the excess resin followed by laying over the table former, draping as desired. The end product should be quite tough if the bundles of fibre in the cloth are coarse.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Comment meant for the mother boing post that is pointing here.

    How come that when Emeka Okafor wants to make Maker Faire Africa, he is mildly suggested to contact O’Reilly for rights management issue, but when Joel wants to have someone’s art/design piece, he is suggested to make his own.

    Sonia Verguet is selling this stuff, for heavens sake.
    Points de vente means places of purchase.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’ve done ome work on boats and West System has some hardcore epoxys that would definitly do the trick but they are expensive, messy and somewhat nasty. That said you could probably sit on it with all your friends.

  22. Fee says:

    Just heard back from the artist who says this is the first time she has used this technique, and she used a very toxic resin. She is about to launch a new website which will have more of her work on it.

  23. flytch says:

    I’d use AeroPoxy for the resin… but don’t “paint” it on… you mix the epoxy and pour it into a large heavy zip lock bag along with the cloth you want to impregnate and squash around with your hands… this will evenly distribute the resin throughout the cloth… then remove from the bag and drape over your plastic covered table and floor… yeah… don’t forget to drape everything that the cloth will touch with plastic!!!
    AeroPoxy is truly wonderful stuff… and it’s as safe as epoxy gets…. but still rubber gloves, coveralls or a good apron and all other safety precautions apply… never allow uncured resin to contact skin…
    I’ve done this before and it’s very easy to do… other then the cost and the safety issues it could even be “Kid friendly”…

  24. Takuan says:

    a non-out-gassing resin

  25. Fee says:

    @15 I read French and searched the site, but I couldn’t find the table for sale on the websites linked from her site. I have written to ask what technque she used and whether she has made other things using the technique. Will report back here if she replies.

    I think it would be wrong to try to reproduce her table exactly, of course, but using the technique to make your own, I can’t see anything wrong with that. People have been using starch/glue to stiffen fabric for years, I see this as just another way of making fabric mache.

  26. Tidmarsh says:

    I’d agree with #16–epoxy is preferable to polyester resin, which is much smellier to work with and not as strong. West System is good, but also expensive. sells epoxy at several price points, from generic to name brand. It won’t take much to do a table– 3 qt kit at about $50 should do it.

    Be sure to use appropriate safety procedures–uncured epoxy can cause allergic reactions, and people who are not initially allergic can develop and allergy. Use nitrile gloves and keep the uncured epoxy off you skin.

    If you load enough epoxy to fill the weave, it will turn glossy, but for an open-weave crochet table, painting on just enough to saturate the fibers won’t turn glossy.

    You’ll also need something to keep the cloth from sticking to your table mold–epoxy won’t stick to polyethylene, so a roll of polyethylene sheeting should work (you’ll also want to put it on the floor so you don’t permanently anchor your table).

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’ve used TAP Plastic’s 314/109 epoxy for textile work, which is clear and indoor-use friendly. You need to be really, really sure you mix it well, and heat really, really helps it set up.

    I would also clamp the top between two pieces of wood (or similar) during cure, in order to ensure that there was good penetration and a nice flat surface for use. However, that would result in clear(ish) epoxy pools between the strands, which is probably not desirable. Not sure how you’d easily get around that without resorting to a vacuum-table sorta set-up. Which would then be trashed.

  28. Tidmarsh says:

    One other comment regarding #2–epoxy is exothermic as it cures, so if you mix a large batch it is possible for it to overheat and catch fire. It’s a good idea to pour out into a pie pan or shallow container so that it has lots of surface area while you use a disable paint brusehto paint the epoxy onto the cloth.

    Heat helps if you live somewhere cold and work in the winter, but if you’re indoors or working in the summer, you shouldn’t need additional heat.

  29. Agies says:

    My crafty wife says that that’s crotched not woven.


    What an extremely cool table. I’d be tempted to try a low wattage incandescent bulb underneath it at night for the lacy shadow effects.

  31. Pekar says:

    More epoxy advice from a veteran West System Epoxy user-
    1. Start with a small test piece. You will learn a lot about the process and avoid many potential mistakes. One concern I have is that wetting fabric with epoxy turns fibers into needles, this may or may not happen with your textile. sometimes a little sanding is required to knock the sharp fibers down.
    2. Dunk the whole darn thing into the epoxy resin.
    3. Remove it, squeeze out excess resin, and shake it out to sort of fluff it.
    4. Drape and style.
    That said, epoxy will give you a bomber structure compared to starch or glue.
    Good luck!

  32. Quasilaur says:

    Indeed, it’s crocheted. What comes to mind is the starch that has been used by many a grandmother on her hand-crocheted doilies, Christmas angels, etc. A quick trip on google for crochet starches brought up the concept of “stiffening solutions” which seems to give a few options, including starch and other wacky recipes.

    Good luck.

  33. bardfinn says:

    Anonymous @#15:

    I am not a lawyer, nor am I in any way representative of BoingBoing or Happy Mutants LLC.

    This is my opinion, and my opinion alone:

    Because “Maker Faire” is the intellectual property and/or trademark of O’Reilly Media, whereas the general notion of fabric maché is a craft, not any one person’s or group’s intellectual property or trademark.

  34. martyingels says:

    A little off topic: I’ve been wanting to do something similar with lamp wire for a long time (imagine a floor-standing lamp whose base is also the wire providing it with electricity). Anyone have suggestions on what kind of resin / epoxy you would use for that? I’ve been wondering this forever and I think this might be the best forum I’ve found. Thanks!

  35. Pekar says:

    Hmm just reread, and painting on the epoxy may be a much better approach.
    Waxed paper also works as a nonstick surface.

  36. pyrotmaniac says:

    Man I love this thing I think I’m gonna make one. I work as an aircraft structural tech. what I do when I am making fiberglass panels is. first find a former. something that will allow my fiber glass (or woven table cloth?) to have a shape. Once I have a former I cover the whole former in peel ply. which for all intents and purposes could be replaced with plastic wrap like you have in the kitchen. For smaller projects I use ziplock bags. Once your former is made. I would use Hysol 828 it sets up clear. other options are 9396 or 956, 956 has an slightly red amber color when It sets up. and 9396 has a really neat green color. These are two part epoxy resins. the mix ration is in the can but is around 100 to 10. use a scale to weigh it and make sure you mix it properly. you’ll be happier later. Once you have selected and mixed your adhesive you simply apply it to your project. A word of caution here, be sure to fully impregnate the cloth or else you’ll have soft spots. It should absorb the adhesive fairly well but work it in anyway. let sit for 24 to 48 hours to cure. heat lamps will cut that time down a bit or heat guns. Be sure that you heat it evenly. Oh, I almost forgot 828 is exothermic when mixed wrong. so if you don’t weigh the two parts to within a few grams it will catch on fire.

    thats all from here

  37. Joel Johnson says:

    I meant crocheted!

  38. cmuwriter says:

    My grandmother used to crotchet little doilies (sic) then soak them in a heavy starch-water solution, then drape them over a cereal bowl. When the thing dried it was stiff and resembled a lady’s hat. She then took a pouch of scented stuff, like clove or something, put them in the hat, and then sewed a small crotchet thing over it. My mother still has one of these things, and it is unmovable still after decades. You may want to try starch.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Fiber(re)glass resin.

    This is the stuff that saturates glass fiber cloth, which hardens and dries mostly transparent.

    Seriously vicious fumes, but very common. Just get some breathing protection.

  40. clueless in brooklyn says:

    New York City’s West Village has an amazing sculpture store called The Compleat Sculptor. ( Amazing because of their amazing workers and their knowledge of all things resin.

    Even if you are not in the NY area, they have a technical support hotline : 212-367-7561 that has saved me many, many times. I’ve totally spent twenty minutes on the phone with them getting patiently advised step by step instructions on certain techniques. They have a wealth of knowledge, so if you are in a real jam on this project, don’t hesitate to contact them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


More BB

Boing Boing Video

Flickr Pool




Displays ads via FM Tech

RSS and Email

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution. Boing Boing is a trademark of Happy Mutants LLC in the United States and other countries.

FM Tech