Introduction: Twilight Zone Elevator Closet

About: An eloquent assemblage of idealistic irrelevance. Hi-jinks, art, technology, and souped-up household items.

Tonight’s episode just happens to be about one suspiciously snazzy elevator indicator that anyone can mount on top of their closet. Just take some plywood, silicone caulking, a few other building supplies and tools, and your next stop will be...The Twilight Zone!


an old closet

1/8 inch purebond bending plywood sheet

3/4 inch plywood sheet

100% silicone caulking (type 1 only, should smell sort of vinagery and sour)

Plaster of Paris

"No More Nails" construction glue


silver metallic spray paint

matte clear topcoat spray paint

"flat black" acrylic paint

"burnt umber" acrylic paint

"unbleached titanium" acrylic paint

"sap green" acrylic paint

"viridian green"acrylic paint

"bright yellow" acrylic paint

"orange" acrylic paint

"venetian gold" metallic acrylic paint

"dark pearl" metallic acrylic paint

a bar of plasticine

a bar of polymer clay

two 3" all-purpose screws

four 1" all-purpose screws


trigger woodworking clamps





protective goggles

assorted medium to small size paintbrushes

0/16 acrylic paintbrush

14 inch diameter metal food bow

10 inch diameter metal food bowl

8 inch diameter metal food bowl

Step 1: Getting Ideas

I wanted to make this elevator indicator because in the Twilight Zone series, elevators are an important recurring theme. In classic episodes (i.e. "twenty two"), movie spinoffs ("Tower of Terror"), and of course the famous "lost episode" that "inspired" the Tower of Terror attraction in Disney World, eerie elevators are essential. This was a fun project that pays homage to all the famous elevators in the franchise.

Step 2: Video

Here's the full video.

Step 3: Cutting Plywood Layers

To cut the three layers of plywood (one 1/8 inch and two 3/4 inch), use three metal kitchen bowls as a pattern. The large bowl should be about 14 inches in diameter, the medium bowl should be about 10 inches in diameter, and the small bowl should be about 8 inches in diameter.

To cut the thin plywood base, use the large bowl as a pattern to cut a circle with a 14 inch diameter from the 1/8 inch pure bond bending plywood sheet using the jigsaw. Measure from the diameter of the wooden circle and cut a straight line across, 4.5 inches from the bottom of the circle.

To cut the thick plywood layers, sketch out two more pieces using the large bowl, minus 4.5 inches from the bottom of the circle again. For the first thick layer, sketch the circumference of the medium bowl in the centre of the ring, creating a section of ring with a width of two inches. For the second thick layer, sketch the circumference of the small bowl in the centre of the ring, creating a section of ring with a width of two inches (See pictures). Using the jigsaw and safety goggles, cut both rings out of the 3/4 inch plywood.

Because I was nervous, I did a test measurement using some grey paper cut with the same dimensions, as a prototype.

Step 4: Stacking and Smoothing

Sand the pieces of plywood. Glue the three layers of plywood together with the No More Nails, with the 1/8 inch layer on the bottom, the thicker 3/4 inch layer in the middle, and the thinner 3/4 inch layer on top. Clamp and let dry overnight.

Smooth the sides and top of the indicator with PolyFilla. Ideally, PolyFilla the middle layers as well (however, I got impatient and only did the top layer, and it still looked pretty good). Let dry for four hours, then sand the PolyFilla smooth.

Step 5: Medallion (pt. 1--modelling Clay)

I wanted to make the indicator medallion from plaster rather than clay, because plaster looks fancier and less cheap-plasticy.

Make a denting tool by rolling a marble size amount of polymer clay into a ball, then rolling it harder on one side than the other (see pictures). Bake according to package instructions.

Take a chunk of plasticine about half the size of a baseball, and flatten it to about 1/4 inch thickness with the acrylic rolling pin. Use a small bowl with a diameter of about 4.5 inches to trace a circle of clay for the medallion. Cut out the circle with a sharp knife. Punch out the centre of the circle with a shot glass. Using the denting tool, make dents all around the circumference of the circle. Flatten the edge of the circle with a butter knife.

Step 6: Medallion (pt. 2--silicone Mold)

Smooth-on™ (the silicone mold product that most professionals use) is SUPER expensive, so I decided to go with the affordable (albeit quirky) silicone caulking alternative. it took me a couple tries to find a silicone brand that reacted properly with the homemade dish soap and water catalytic solution. I ended up using DAP 100% silicone (which has a caustic, vinegary smell).

Make a catalytic solution with 1/2 cup of blue dish soap and 8 cups of water. Dispense almost the entire tube of silicone into the bowl, and knead it around for about ten minutes. Then press it all over the plasticine prototype. Let it dry overnight, then unmold plasticine.

Step 7: Medallion (pt. 2--pouring Plaster and Painting)

Mix about half a cup of plaster of Paris according to package instructions. Let dry completely and carefully unmold. Trace a line about 1.5 inches from the bottom (see pic.) and begin sawing back and forth with an exacto knife. Chisel back and forth until you can see through the plaster line, then break off the chunk of plaster cleanly.

Seal the medallion with a thin layer of white acrylic paint. Let dry completely. Mix the Venetian gold and dark pearl acrylic paint until it reaches a dark bronzy-silver colour. Paint the medallion with two or more coats of the mixture, allowing it to dry in between. Cover the remaining paint with plastic wrap and save it for later.

Step 8: Painting Indicator

Cover a well ventilated work space with a black garbage bag. Spray several coats of silver paint all over the wooden indicator, allowing to dry in between. Paint the bottom layer of the indicator with "unbleached titanium" acrylic. Let dry. Glue the plaster medallion to the indicator base. Mix some orange acrylic in with the unbleached titanium, and paint the outer edges a bit darker to suggest an aging effect. Save the extra paint for later.

Step 9: Painting Numbers

Sketching lightly, begin drawing the floor numbers in with pencil. Start with the "6" at the top, then work your way down symmetrically on the sides. When satisfied with the design, paint over the sketches using the black acrylic paint and the 0/16 brush.

If you make a mistake, just mix a bit more unbleached titanium and yellow acrylic, and paint over your mistake.

Seal the indicator with a thin coat of "Matte clear" spray paint.

Step 10: Indicator Arrow and Knob

Roll a marble-sized piece of polymer clay to approximately 1/8 inch thickness. Find an image of a twilight zone indicator (you can google lots of good options) and enlarge the arrow to about 2.5 inch length. Cut out the arrow, place it on the sheet of clay, and carefully trace and cut around it.

Roll the remaining clay into a two inch long cylinder and slice a knob of about 3/4 of an inch of the end of it. Carve out a notch for the arrow in the side of the knob (see video). Bake the arrow and the knob for half the time recommended by the package instructions.

Halfway through baking, remove clay pieces and glue the arrow inside the notch using a drop of TLS. Return to oven and bake for remainder of time recommended on package.

Paint arrow with the remaining metallic paint mixture. Glue it in the centre of the plaque, pointing to whichever number you like.

Spray entire indicator with a layer of clear matte spray paint.

Step 11: Elevator Plaque

From the purebond bending plywood sheet, cut a strip of rectangular wood measuring 21.5 by two inches with the jigsaw. Sand thoroughly. Apply several coats of silver metallic spray paint, letting dry for a few minutes in between.

For the "service elevator" stencil, you can use any image of the indicator from the internet, with the letters blown up to one inch each. To make stencils with a regular home printer, Print the "Service" word on one sheet of paper and print the "Elevator" word on another sheet of paper. Using an exacto knife and a cutting board, carefully cut out the letters, leaving stencils beneath.

Place the stencils on the strip of wood and make sure that they are set with about one inch at the beginning and end of "Service" and "Elevator," respectively. Allow for about 1/2 inch above and below the words. Pencil the letters in, then paint in with the remaining titanium and yellow paint mixture from the face of the indicator.

Using the black and different green acrylic paints, create an aged look on the plaque. Finish with a topcoat of clear spray paint.

Step 12: Mounting Indicator and Plaque

Using a drill bit that fits the two three inch wood screws, drill two symmetrical pilot holes in the indicator. I eyeballed the holes, at approximately 1/2 inch in on either side, and three inches up. Drill the screws into the indicator until their points poke just out of the other side of the indicator. Hold the indicator above the doorframe and mark spots for the screw plugs with a pencil. Pre-drill the spots on the wall, and hammer plugs in. Finish screwing the indicator to the doorframe.

Hold the "service elevator" plaque up to the doorframe. Pre-drill straight through the plaque and into the doorframe at each of the four corners of the plaque. Screw in the one inch screws.

Step 13: Finished!

Your Twilight Zone elevator inspired closet is finished! Check out the video for more details. Have fun hanging your clothes in another dimension...

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