Ellen's Design Challenge - No.3

By Karl Champley

The Cow Table - liquid plaster :)


This was actually an awesome project. A project that is so Katie!

Katie chose a Philippe Stark ghost chair.


The task was to design and build a table to best suit the chair - thats exactly what we did.

The table is in fact a great choice for this chair as the chairs are see through enabling you to see the cows inner thighs :) The cow angle was not originally planned.

I thought she made a bold choice not to use the lumber. I managed to claim a beautiful slab early on in the challenge. However she wanted to create a paper mache table. Something extremely different from anyone else. This was a risky process as it took too long to cure (dry) and we did not have that luxury of time! So plaster was the next alternative. I personally love plaster as it is fast drying and easy to repair. However you only get one shot in the mold as it has a glass like finish. Not a finish that can be patched later.

* So first up was to build the wooden table. I used recycled wood from a packing crate as I knew it would be 100% dry. Any moisture in the wood would lead to future cracking & I am also an environmental guy too.


All surfaces of the table were stapled with wire mesh. 16 staples per sq. ft. in order to reinforce the plaster.


I made an acrylic mold slightly larger that the reinforced table. Heavily lubricated the base and sides. 50% of the plaster was poured into the mold, I then inserted the reinforced wood table with spacers holding the table one inch away from the base mold and sides. The remaining plaster was poured into the top and leveled off with the forms.

*Oh and this was all done 30 minutes prior to the ending of day one! I needed it to set overnight.


The next morning we removed to forms to find that the finished result was fantastic! I did have a back up plan, however I do admit I was thinking about this the entire night :). Once the forms were removed, I flipped the table onto lubricated mirrored sections in order to finish the legs. I reinforced the legs and we molded the plaster onto the legs by hand. The mirror bases prevented them from sticking. once dry using a gas heater overnight as well as the sun during the day I then applied three coats of a polyurethane to increase the hardness of the material to make it sealed and more durable.


I created an udder - another gift for Katie and to get a laugh from the judges. I filled a latex glove with plaster, let it dry, then peeled the latex off resulting in one sexy looking udder! Sprayed it red to support a vase I filled with succulents for judging.


I thought they all looked great and proud that we did something incredibly different.

A final note: As a board member to the Wildlife Waystation - one of the largest animal sanctuaries in the United States as well as being a strong animal advocate. This table salutes the animal and no cows were harmed in the building process of this challenge :)..