Anybody Know How to Make Something Look Like It's Covered in Solar Panels?

So I have this Überdorky idea for remodeling my living room. I’m going to give it a space theme (my stereo cabinet is going to be a scale model of the Apollo launch tower, the CD rack is going to be a model of a Saturn V, the couch will be modeled after the couches on the Apollo capsule, the loveseat will be part of the rover, the magazine rack will look like the LM’s leg, the end table will look like the Soviet Venera probe, the ceiling fan is going to look like Skylab, I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do with the entertainment center or the recliner yet) and I want my coffee table to look like a solar panel on a space craft. I’ve been checking the prices on solar panels, but they’re all more than I want to spend (and sadly, the surplus sites I know of no longer carry broken solar cells), so I’m hoping someone knows a cheap and easy to get that blue/silver metallic look that solar panels tend to have. Anyone have any ideas?

I don’t know how to get the look, but dude you gotta post pics when this is done.
Oh and where does the 1920’s style death ray go? :slight_smile:

AOL and Earthlink CDs under glass? They’re free…

Great idea, btw. Post pics if you can.

have you tried looking for solar panels on ebay? There are sometimes used ones for sale there very reasonably.

It would take some experimentation, but I think you could achieve the effect with paint. The main look of a solar panel is that deep blue-black glassiness. I’d suggest:

Paint the table white (suits the space theme). Mask some very thin lines to give you a rectangular grid - maybe using that really thin artists tape. This is to divide the table top into individual “panels”. Then paint the table top gloss black. Once that dries, maybe add a wash of thinned gloss blue paint on top. Repeat until you’re happy with the colour. Then coat the top with several layers of clear varnish to give you the glassiness. Finally, remove the masking tape to expose the grid (if you still can under all those layers of paint!).

Note: IANAA (I am not an artist) but I watch a lot of Debbie Travis and Trading Spaces on TV. Good luck!

And might I suggest a Discovery/HAL 9000 theme for the entertainment centre? Or a Space Shuttle Orbiter Lower Deck theme - the storage areas on the shuttle have distinctive doors that it shouldn’t be too hard to copy.

I would suggest using coloured gells for the squares of black, and silver paint for the grid. And then glass on top.

Good luck

Why do I get the feeling there is no tuckerfannette living at this address?

Amberlei, checked eBay, and the panels there are going for about what new ones retail for (possibly more, if the seller wants to screw you on the shipping costs).

twickster, and not likely to be, either. However, I’m not going to do the whole place like this, an Apollo themed bathroom would suck! (And forget about the shuttle design, I refuse to build a toilet where the shit is supposed to hit the fan!!!

burntsand, the shuttle idea might work. I’ve got to find some good plans of the shuttle to know for certain. Everything I’m doing is going to be to scale (which means the Saturn V and launch tower are going to come out to just over six feet high), and everything is going to be modelled after something that’s been in space, which means the 2001 idea is out.

And in a couple years, when I get this thing done, I’ll be more than happy to post pics.

For the solar panel look, I’d just get a large format (1:1 scale) color computer printout of a photovoltaic cell array. Laminate the poster print to the coffee table and viola!

Another call for photos when finished!

Looking at e-bay it seems that solar panels look kinda boring :slight_smile:
The plain black ones at least. Depending on whether you are going for authentic or cool-looking, mebbe what is needed is not to make something look like a solar panel, but to look like what we think a solar panel looks like… :eek:

Something like
this maybe. Looks like you could probably fake that up nicely with some blue-backed CDRs and a silver sharpie. Perhaps otherwise you could use half-transparent (is translucent a word?) contact film on a sheet of glass, draw on that with your silver sharpie and a ruler, and then have two strips-lights underneath the table, shining up through your “cells”.

How about taking a dark blue magic marker (jumbo size) to some aluminum foil?

Hey, it could work…



You could try blue cellophane, with tape to divide it up into cells.

And I thought my craft ideas were weird… if you want to know how to make a mobile from AOL disks, or a remote control caddy from the cut off legs of pants (khaki slacks you made into shorts, natch) I can help you make your place look even geekier :smiley: I heart my new remote caddy.

I like Iteki’s blue cd/sharpie idea, though. I’m not sure how you would cut them (they do melt, however, but that’s only good for putting holes in them with something sharp) and there’s the problem of the center opening, so you’d probably have to cut the cds into little squares. Does anyone have a glass cutting tool and a cd they don’t want? I bet it could be cut that way. You’d probably need to put a sheet of (preferably beveled-edged) glass over the whole works, though, to keep things from scratching or getting between the cracks.

Duct tape?

Solar cells don’t photograph well. Having played with them enough in the past, I know that they have an iridescence to them to them that camera’s just can’t capture.

There’s some way of simulating the effect with metal, a blow torch, and chemicals, but I don’t remember what it is.

You mean like the stuff our very own SkyBum does?

Drop a mail, they might have ideas on how to get the effect :slight_smile:

You definitely need to cover it in glass to get the right effect, as all the solar panels I’ve seen were mostly made out of specially treated glass.

Here’s my 2C worth:

  1. Cover one side of the glass in that self-adhesive foil you use to make cars look like they have smoked windows (watch out for bubbles). I think this also comes in a metallic blue colour, which might look even better than the real thing…

  2. With a straight edge and a craft knife cut and peel off 1mm wide strips in the foil, these strips spaced evenly a couple of cm apart from each other. A bit like a pin-striped suit.

  3. Lay the glass over some kind of graphite-coloured surface, (possibly a layer of dense foam rubber, the reverse of a foam-rubber mouse pad or perhaps the reverse side of a rubber car floor mat) with the self-adhesive foil stuff on the inside.

  4. Polish it really well.

  5. Enjoy :slight_smile: