Thursday, August 6, 2015

Geometric Art Desk

Because fully intend to turn our new office into a master closet and bath one day, we just needed a simple desk for our temporary office. We considered a few different desk options on a trip to Ikea, but ultimately decided a cheap, makeshift desk would be the best idea.

We wanted a desk in a very specific size, so we used a pressboard countertop meant for a garage work bench. We could have used MDF for a very similar price... and maybe we should have. The MDF would have soaked up more paint, but the finished surface would have been smoother than the pressboard. But, the workbench top didn't require any extra cutting, and we were feeling lazy. The legs were sold individually, bringing the cost of the basic desk to about $40.

Then things got a bit crazy. The plain workbench top looked too much like... well, a workbench top. I decided to paint it. I first made a basic design on graph paper, which I used as tracing paper to create a design for the desk.

I sketched out a few shape ideas that could be created from it. Aaron liked the triangles and diamonds the most, saying that he wanted the triangles on his side pointing to the squares on my side. I drew a box to scale with the table top, and created a design by tracing over my custom template above.
Geometric designs are a great way for anyone, despite artistic ability, to make something awesome. It all boils down to straight lines and tracing. I initially tried to spray paint the desktop, but this would have taken too much paint and time. I used two coats of a flat, very light gray paint and primer in one instead.
I wanted to use thing masking tape for the design, eventually ordering .125" tape from Amazon. It's clear that whoever was selling this tape was merely buying regular sized tape and cutting it into thinner rolls on some sort of saw... but whatever. I couldn't find anything thinner than .5" in stores near me. I marked the edges of the table with little lines every inch, then connected the lines according to my design. 
Obviously, this resulted in a lot of wasted tape, but it was the easiest way to recreate the design. Unfortunately, once I was on the squares side, I realized I had made a sight error in laying out the tape. The boxes were slowly going askew as I continued. I adjusted the design on the fly to make the mistake less apparent, so that side differs from the original design.
I used cheap acrylic craft paint from Michaels to fill the shapes. I sort of randomly picked the colors, going for whatever felt about right. There's a mix of flat, satin, and metallic colors. I was able to get 13 bottles for $9 dollars, and still have a ton left. I intend to use the extra paint later to make wall art in the same colors as the desk. 
I thought foam brushes would be the best way to paint this, but just a regular paint brush would have worked fine. The foam brushes came in assorted packs of 9 for $5 at Home Depot.
In addition to just sort of guessing what colors to use, I just sort of guessed where to use them. I started at the triangles end and painted toward the squares, trying not to rely on one color too much or using the same color right next to itself. I used the flat and satin colors the most, and used the metallics sparingly. 
One of the most rewarding parts about this whole project was pulling off the tape once the design was complete. This was also terrifying, as I still needed to cover it with a top coat. I used triple thick polyurethane. Some type of epoxy might have been better, but I didn't want to deal with the mess or stress. I prefer to use epoxy on things with edges

Because the surface of the desk is slightly textured, I was unable to sand between coats. The polyurethane was self leveling, so the brushstrokes could not be seen once it dried. We're very happy with how it turned out, and are now impatiently waiting for the polyurethane to fully cure so we can start using it!