Made at theCO: Mystery Block Lamp

Anyone who has walked into theCO the last couple of weeks may have experienced a flash of childhood nostalgia—memories of sitting on the living room couch, game controller in hand, leading an Italian plumber past a giant, turtle-like being to rescue a kidnapped princess.

To illuminate the new shop at the front of theCO, Austin Thompson, founder and owner of Random Pieces of Wood, has built and installed a light shaped like the Mystery Block in Super Mario games.

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Thompson wanted to make a light for the store that was different from the Our Jackson Home shop across from it but that would also complement the style of Random Pieces of Wood.

“I wanted a light in the corner for the store, and I wanted it to be different, but not too weird—something on-brand,” Thompson explained. “I tried making a wood light that was really nice and beautiful-looking. It didn’t work out. So I tried thinking, ‘What’s something that fits what I do?’”

He began looking at different 8-bit pieces, squares, and lampshades. Looking at the different blocks gave him the idea to create something Mario-inspired. After some searching, he found the vector image that he would use to create the light.

He cut out four 11-by-11 pieces of wood and used to laser to bore the question marks in each pieces. He used some rope lights left over from a past project made at theCO and put it all together.

Thompson and another CO:member, Kevin Adelsberger, are experimenting with sensors to see if they can get the iconic “coin” sound effect from Mario to ring when people jump near the light.

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“Lisa [Garner, executive director of theCO] wasn’t here,” he said. “So I decided I might as well ask for forgiveness instead of permission. And then I was surprised when she got back, she was like, ‘I love it! It’s a great idea.’”

Currently, cufflinks and earrings emblazoned with superhero logos, animals, and other designs are available at the Random Pieces of Wood store, Thompson plans on adding more products, such as coasters, wine boxes, and wall art, to the store.

“People come in all the time and see my stuff and sometimes I’m here and sometimes I’m not,” he said. “So Lisa had the idea, ‘Well, if you aren’t here, and we have a store set up with Square, then we can kind of handle it from there.’”

Although the store now features products from Random Pieces of Wood such as cufflinks and earrings, other businesses operating out of theCO may start displaying their work for sale sometime in the future. So make sure to come out and get the perfect laser-cut gift!

For more information on Random Pieces of Wood, check out, and get a closer look into Austin's process in this video by Felicia Ingram: