I’m doing a little side project, or what would be if I weren’t involved in it (you’ll see why]. And when I say “would be” I’m referring to “little”. I’m making something for a publication on the topic of “modern learning”, and my idea was to use a vintage desk and make a gradient where it transforms into wire-frame, or something along those lines. The transformation part is just using Photoshop, and a piece of cake for me. The hard part is, or was, modeling the desk in Blender. It was also the challenging, new, interesting part, and I’d add rewarding, once I got through it.

There’s no blue-print, so I just eye-balled the whole thing based on a bunch of photos I found online [see examples below].

The most difficult part was probably making the legs and all the bending, intersecting, cylindrical pieces.

The desk references are not all exactly the same model, so I made a plausible hybrid using my favorite parts of each.

Some of the desks have a hollow, open front, and a fixed top. Too easy! I ended up going with the top that opens, and a slightly more complex base shape [below, just getting down the overall shape].

And the hardest part of making the open desk was the little latch that holds it up. I couldn’t see it clearly in any of the pics, and really don’t know how it works. I spent over two hours making a semi-convincing mechanism, which will only be seen in part from a distance.

Looks a bit short and stubby, but I designed it to fit the height of the opening space.

Below is one of the clearest photos, and then my approximation, allowing for it to somehow function. The original just looks like one solid piece, and probably is, but that looks less convincing when I try to reproduce it. So, I threw in a few doodads to make it more convincing at a glance. It’s BS up close, but passable from afar if you don’t know any better. I am now more curious about how various latches and levers operate.

After I was done, it occurred to me that it would make more sense for the lever to rotate from left to right than front to back, but someone’s going to need to be really nit-picky to even notice which way it might rotate, or that it rotates at all. My goal was just to make it persuasive in the picture, not to have passed the midterm in basic engineering design 101 (for dummies].

Same goes for the underside, and the, uh, clamps. I don’t know how the chair and desk attach to the underlying structure. Just slap in some metal plates, nuts and bolts, and call it a day (or two], I say.

Mercifully, I could see the desktops, and where there’s a circular depression (for a drink?], and a groove for pencils and whatnot.

Some things came out surprisingly well, like how the bolts fasten the brackets to the seat of the chair [see below]. That uses a shrink wrap feature with a vertex group comprised of 3 edge loops at staggered assigned weights (not that any of that means anything to you if you don’t do Blender] :

So far, so good.

Notice that my desktop isn’t open in the perfectly horizontal position. I don’t know if that’s really an option, but I want that slop for aesthetic reasons, and to show where the desk top splits. I even put rudimentary hinges on the underside (I don’t like shirking challenges].

I already got paid for the project, and this assignment pays in bitcoin. It was worth it just to set up a bitcoin wallet (I can accept all cryptocurrency as of yesterday, and feel free to use the qr code in the right sidebar to give a tip]. I also have a bit more of the sense that I’m a part of the future, or at least not cut off from it.

This project has been the perfect opportunity to practice my hard-surface modelling skills, and its own reward. Next up is adding materials to the mesh so it looks much more realistic. Right now, well, the wood just looks like milk chocolate, and the metal like plastic painted a metallic color to fool consumers into buying a pair of nail-clippers in Cambodia that will snap in half when you try to use them [I speak from experience]. I might go with the desk/chair being a bit worn, with rust and obvious wood grain.

Stay tuned. Life will somehow feel incomplete is you don’t stick around to see how this ultimately develops! No? Well, it’s a good distraction from the debates and other political inanity? Ah, we are in agreement at least on that.

~ Ends

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2 replies on “Making a Vintage School Desk in Blender: In Progress

  1. NIce! Lots of detail, looks rugged as heck – made in a time when one could expect to survive an atomic bomb by hiding under it. I think the little desktop hole is for an ink bottle (back in the ink bottle days)? If I ever found such an obsolete hole in a desk as a young student, I no doubt used it to store pencil shavings.

    Excellent work, as always! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, right, for ink! It predates even my childhood by some decades. I do remember the drills where we hid under our desks, but since I’m from CA, it might have been an earthquake drill. We definitely had those air raid siren alerts due to the cold war though.

      Liked by 2 people

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