26 December 2009

behold that star!

Background: Seven years ago I recorded a Christmas/winter CD with Kiitos, a vocal quartet that a few singer friends and I formed in the late 1990s. I designed the cover using a star that I found in a book of “church art” that B used in service leaflets at his job.

When we acquired a house with a big red barn, I more or less immediately thought Hey, wouldn’t that star look amazing on the side of the barn? but it wasn’t until this December that I got my act together enough to actually do it. I began by talking with a construction-oriented friend about the logistics of assembling an 8x8-foot panel and attaching it to the side of the barn (I had something very complicated in mind, and he suggested simply screwing two 4x8-foot sheets of plywood to the barn doors: brilliant). Then I called the lumber store, had the plywood delivered (another revelation from my friend: I imagined I would need to borrow a truck and drive to Glens Falls to buy it, but he assured me that someone from the Agway in Salem would be happy to deliver two large sheets to Pleasant Hill for a seven-dollar delivery charge; imagine that!), enlarged the star on my computer and printed it out on about 100 sheets of paper, spent a Saturday tracing the design onto the plywood and painting it, spent a few hours the next Saturday attaching the star to the barn doors with B’s help, and then bought a floodlight to illuminate it in the evenings.

If I do say so myself, I think it’s pretty spectacular. Here are some photographs of the whole process. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Every star, no matter how large or small, begins with a plan. I enlarged our star 1,250 percent and printed it out on a stack of paper (each rectangle is a sheet of paper).
Now to tape the pages together.
More taping.
We had to clear out the dining room so that I could lay the two pieces of 4x8-foot CD exterior-grade plywood on the floor. I stapled the assembled star onto this panel so that it wouldn’t move around as I traced it.
I used a Phillips-head screwdriver and a hammer to trace the outline of the star. After I removed the staples with a pair of pliers, I connected the indentations I had made with a pencil. For the record, this is the largest connect-the-dots drawing I’ve ever completed!
All dots are now connected.
Painting took most of an Advent Saturday afternoon and evening. First I painted the background barn red. (You’ll notice I didn’t prime the plywood; I considered this only after I had already begun painting: Oh well.)
Then I filled in the white. Next year I’ll put a second coat on. This year B and I wanted to just get it finished and hung.
Phew! All complete! The next Saturday, B and I hung it on the side of the barn. It took a little doing (accompanied by some colorful language), but we did it.
Completed star during the day. It’s visible from the road and from our kitchen and bedroom windows (B finds it quite meditative).
And here's the star at dusk illuminated by a white spotlight. At first we tried a blue floodlight, but for some reason it washed out all the detail so that from the road the star looked like a bluish blob. (If anyone can explain why this would be, I would be very grateful.)
Behold that star!


  1. Looks very nice!
    Good job!

  2. Amazing! Living proof that size does matter.

  3. Anonymous8:53 AM

    Absolutely brilliant! What a great plan.

  4. Anonymous8:56 AM

    I meant to include that after my ex and I had built a new home (white siding with a heritage blue trim, shutters, etc.) we illuminated it one Christmas with blue floodlights. For whatever reason, the house almost disappeared from a distance, so I suspect there's something about the length of the blue light that doesn't "mesh" with white? We switched to a plain, white floodlight and it was just fine.

  5. Anonymous12:11 PM

    Thanks for sharing. What an adventure. What a starflake!