The 1968 SCI FI classic - 2001 A Space Odyssey has the famous Alien Monolith as the central plot element. It represents the gateway to the alien species that eventually sends astronaut David Bowman back to Earth to save it from mutually assured destruction. Because of the simplicity of the design and the impact it has on screen... I decided it was time to make my very own monolith for my desk at work.
This project literally took all of 15 minutes plus spray paint drying time.
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Step 1: Materials
I wanted a durable material that was very uniform and would not show any type of surface features like wood grain. The very cool thing about the monolith in the movie is that the book and movie detail that looking into it is like looking into the abyss... you cannot tell where the actual surface is supposed to start. Hence seeing a surface would not be ideal for this model.
and.. I had plenty of acrylic laying around so it was a great choice.
The monolith in the movie was changed from the short story of Arthur C. Clarke's original idea of a tetrahedron. Kubrick and Clarke thought the rectangle had more presence over the Astronauts at the Clavius excavation site, so the change was made to make it a rectangular prism. In the story, the monolith has the dimensional ratios of 1,2,3 SQUARED... so the Thickness is 1, the Width is 4, and the Length is 9.
Step 2: Cutting
For my model, my acrylic was 3/8" thick or 0.375".
This makes my width 4 x 0.375 or 1.50" wide. For the length it is 9 units long or 9 x 0.375 = 3.375".
You may wish to cut slightly larger than these dimensions for sanding. I cut the acrylic at a slow feed rate to minimize chipping but not so slow as to start it to melt while cutting. Pratice with a sample first.
Because of safety reasons, I cut a strip (the width of 1.5" wide) first purposefully much longer than the length I would need - say roughly 8". Plastic has a way of chipping and grabbing cutting tooling, so be sure and think safety, use eye protection and a push stick. The long piece was then cut to exact length. This 8" piece gave me something to grab and keep my fingers away from my miter saw!!!
Once cut, you will have left saw tooth cutting lines that have to be sanded smooth.
I sanded all 6 sides by rubbing the piece over a sheet of 120 grit paper. Sanding ALL Sides is required so the paint would stick to the acrylic and give it a very matt finish when painted flat black. The 120 grit also made sanding a breeze. Be sure to keep the piece square and not roll the edges so it stays a true edge and rectangular.
Step 4: Paint
I used a spray can of flat black Rustoleum paint. To hold the piece I used tape and held the bottom of the piece and then taped this down to a piece of cardboard as shown. I used VERY light coats, and several costs to make sure I didn't have any runs. Basically I dusted it in black.
After an hour, It was basically dry and now I have a mini-monolith on my desk at work!
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