I made this cabinet for an english class as a final project. It's based off of a sculpture called "Birth of a Jalapeño", made by a latino artist, which our english teacher showed us in class one day. The original sculpture was a box with a mirrored top, and a pair of forceps resting on the top with a wooden jalapeño in the jaws. It was supposed to be very metaphorical and everything, symbolizing stereotypes and self image and many other english-teacher-ish ideas. The whole time in class that day, all I could think about was how I would make my own, because the actual structure of the box was intriguing to me. So, I naturally jumped to this idea when our teacher assign an 'open' final project.
Like I said, my cabinet is based off of the sculpture, but it also has some other interesting aspects. Mine is wall-mounted, has a door and a shelf inside, and has imbedded electronics which control the one-way mirror. The idea is: you put an object in the box which symbolizes your true identity, and an object in the 'forceps' (mine are actually salad tongs) which symbolizes what other people see you as. When the light level is high in the environment (like, the room that the cabinet is hanging in), the glass pane acts like a mirror. However, when you turn the lights down in the room, the light sensor in the cabinet triggers a MOSFET which turns small lights on inside the box, turning the mirror into see-through glass, and letting you see the object inside the cabinet.
The metaphorical implications are endless, and so it was not only fun to build, but also got me a great final grade in the class because my english teacher loved it.
The cabinet and door frame are 4/4 walnut, and the veneer inside is elm burl. I finished the entire thing with danish oil.
The build time was about a week, working in the evenings after school. The cost for all the materials was probably a little under 100 dollars (walnut ain't cheap).
Step 1: Design
First I designed the cabinet in sketch up. (any graphics geeks out there will get the object references).
The small switch on the side will choose between 3 light settings: off, on, and 'light activated'.
The cavity in the back will hold the electronics and battery pack.