It’s no secret that the Internet opens up whole new worlds to many people and I am no exception. When I started following people I didn’t know on Instagram and seeing little tiny snapshots of their lives I began to learn about things that I didn’t know about. For instance, apparently everyone in the whole world knows what a light table is. Before Instagram, I had no idea what it was and thanks to a total stranger, I would see pictures of her daughter doing so many interesting things on this illuminated surface.
One day I asked her about a specific picture, “What is she doing?”.
“She’s using liquid watercolors on a paper towel on the light table.”
Paper towels? Watercolors? Who cares? Yeah, I didn’t know there was such thing as liquid watercolors but come on! A light table? What the heck is a light table?
That moment I knew that I, errr, my kids, HAD to have a light table. I did some research and I found I could buy light boxes for the tabletop and other products that would give my kids a similar experience but the light table I really wanted, the one that looked exactly like this other woman’s was $450 plus shipping. I also knew that if I was going to do anything like let my kid play with liquid watercolors on the water table it had to be a little bit more durable than just a tabletop box.
That morning I just happen to stop by Goodwill and I found the perfect coffee table for only $10. This table was perfect because it had a border all around it that held in a single wood panel that made up the majority of the tabletop surface. When the middle panel was removed, there was a lip that held that panel in. I bought it, stuck it in the back of my car and took it home. Then I tasked my husband with figuring the rest out. There were so many do-it-yourself things on Pinterest and everywhere else that looked so easy and they made it sound like it wouldn’t cost us very much. Wrong! We found out that plexiglass with the white tint is really hard to come by and very expensive.
After a frustrating search for plexiglass online, at the hardware store and everywhere else (we had hoped it would be inexpensive), my husband spoke to Paul from Paul’s Glass in Greenwood (317.885.1924 – 101 North Meridian, Greenwood). After explaining exactly what he wanted, Paul suggested that Jay just purchase tempered glass which made it very safe and a lot stronger than regular glass. Paul explained that while plexiglass was a little stronger, it scratches easily and wasn’t the most suitable play surface.
By choosing to go with tempered glass, Paul could then add a white opaque tint to one side, which would diffuse the light the way Jay wanted. It took exactly a week because Paul cuts the glass and then sends it out to be tempered. Jay dropped the table top off at his store so that the glass would be cut to fit perfectly into the opening. The cost was $40 in all.
Jay bought the cheapest board at the hardware store and had them cut a rectangle. It was called MDF board and it cost about $5-10 for what we needed, including cuts. He used this to create a bottom to the table where he could run the lighting. He drilled a hole in the side of the table for the remote receiver (more on that in a minute) and the power cord for the lights to come out.
After playing around with a strip of LED lighting from a local hardware store, we decided that it wasn’t quite enough to illuminate the whole table and that we needed more. We found exactly what we needed on Amazon, it was nearly 10 times the amount of lights for less money than what we found locally. In addition to the lights we needed connectors because these particular LED lights ($24.99) were a 16 foot cord and there are spaces where it can be cut and then you use these connectors ($4.99) to connect them together. Each strip was placed about 4 inches apart throughout the table. The light strips were about 28 inches long each after being cut.
One thing that sets our light table apart from all of the other light tables I found on Pinterest and everywhere else? Ours has a remote that allows us to change the colors of our lights to any one of 22 shades of awesomeness! There are patterns and fades you can set up too! I’m okay with plain old white but the colors are nice too!
$97. That was the cost of our light table. We might throw another $20 into the table to add a box that changes the colors and strobes the lights to the beat of any music playing in the room. The kids light table has now become a party table.
We won’t even talk about how much I spent at the store on fun accessories for the light table… and yes, I did buy some liquid watercolors.
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