Charles Hecht
Pop Art Tomato Table

Making furniture is not all about mastering the use of the table saw or the router. It’s not just about wood grain or sand paper. There was a time when that was so, but in the post-space age it’s not only possible, but downright stylish, to infuse your furniture collection with the synthetic modishness of a mid-career Stanley Kubrick film. Remember, the 1960s were not all about men with long hair and women with bare breasts. They were also the decade of Nancy Sinatra in knee-high walkin’ boots, Pop as art, and a resulting new sophistication about what it means to be original. As far as furniture goes, I have one word for you: plastics.

Plexiglas is a brand name for solid acrylic or what we normally think of as hard plastic. Obviously you don’t need to use any particular brand, just the least expensive one you can find. Look in the yellow pages under "Plastics –Suppliers" or "Signs" and find someone who can cut sheets to size for you. In addition, the size of your project can be adapted to what sort of pieces you find pre-cut. This can save you a lot of money, as getting plastic to spec can often entail buying an entire large sheet. Be flexible. I created this table design by browsing for remnant scraps at an industrials plastics store near me.

You’ll need:
1/4" thick square of red acrylic 16" x 16" for top
1/8" thick square of clear acrylic 8" x 8" for base
24" clear acrylic tube, 3" diameter
10 fake, plastic tomatoes or other fruit to fit in tube
clear-drying epoxy

Making the table is incredibly easy, once you have gathered your materials. Wipe clean the inside of your clear tube and then glue it, centered, onto the square base. You’ll find the center by measuring the base diagonally from corner to corner and marking the midpoint of the line. Then measure perpendicular to this line, bisecting the opposite corners and find the midpoint again. Make a tiny mark with a grease pencil or bit of soap – this is your center. Position your acrylic tube so it is exactly surrounding this center point. Take a q-tip saturated with the glue and press into the seam where the tube meets the flat base, inching around the tube and re-saturating the q-tip with glue when needed. Allow this to dry, undisturbed for at least ten minutes (or according to the glue’s directions).

Stack the ten tomatoes in the tube or as needed to fill up. This part of the table will resemble a piece by Arman with its items all crammed in. You can also fill the tube with other objects, but the tomatoes are particularly nice, because if you get the correct size tubing they will stack very neatly one on top of the other.

Place the table top, face down on your work surface, and find the center again. Place the tube and base, upside down onto the center mark. Make sure the sides of the base are squared with the sides of the top. Glue the cylinder to the top and allow it to dry.

Flip over the table onto its base and admire it. Yup, that’s good.

Pop Art: An artistic movement emerging first in England in the 1950s with artists David Hockney and Richard Hamilton, and subsequently flourishing in the New York of the 1960s and early 70s. Pop art’s "cool" sensibility was considered a reaction to the high minded seriousness of abstract expressionism and was meant to play with the distinction between "high" and "low" art and explore issues of mass media and popular culture. Paintings and sculpture represented everyday objects and images from advertising and commercial art. Some of the most famous pop artists include: Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Sigmar Polke, Robert Rauschenburg, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Jim Dine, Edward Ruscha (pronounced roo-SHAY) and Keith Haring.

Stanley Kubrick: American filmmaker (1928–1999) whose famed oeuvre includes something from almost every film genre imaginable, as well as the futuristically designed 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange. Kubrick is beloved by film buffs and I’ve been pointing out for years that ultimate film geek-turned-director Quentin Tarantino re-made Kubrick’s heist movie, The Killing, as his own heist movie, Reservoir Dogs. I’ve never heard it acknowledged officially, but I’m vindicated now as the authors of The Hipster Handbook apparently noticed the same thing.

Arman: French-born American assemblage artist (b. 1928). Arman created many works of found materials, which presage installation art. He constructed "accumulations," his name for groups of similar objects crammed willy-nilly into containers.
© 2004-2007 Nava Lubelski, All Rights Reserved.