Behind the scenes of Lights on Display, with projects, tips and relevant links.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Shimmering Z-Star

I often get asked about the star which tops my Z-Tree. I created it using Silver Coroplast (CP) and a clear set of chasing or multi-function mini-lights (140 ct.). The three dimensional star measures 26" tip to tip, and it's supported by a threaded rod that is attached to the top most section of the tree.

The star is made from 4 individual cut pieces of CP. Two pieces are joined together with Duct tape. A duplicate assembly is created for the face and back of the star. These two assemblies will later be joined with small clear cable ties. First download the pattern pdf and print it out.  Cut out the large and small star point patterns. Using the Layout Pattern guide, build the layout pattern 1 and 2 on the Coroplast by tracing the cutouts multiple times with a marker. As you trace the pattern, mark the bulb holes with a small nail or pin. Remember to only do this for the star face only. Cut out each layout pattern from the Coroplast.

Next, 140 holes need to be made in the face half of layout pattern 1 and 2. Use a 3/8" masonry bit, and drill through the Coroplast into a scrap piece of wood at the points marked on the pattern. A mini-light bulb should fit snugly into the hole.

To eventually join the front and back star halves, you will need to poke small holes along the edge on the face and back at the marked pattern locations on the full assembly guide. Stack both the front and back layout pattern 1 in one group and front and back layout pattern 2 in another group. Using a small hole punch, punch through both pieces at once. The hole should be big enough to eventually thread a small clear cable tie through to join both halves together.

On the full assembly guide, notice the cut lines and the score lines. When cutting and scoring, use a straight edge and a sharp utility knife to carefully make the cuts. Tape the sections as indicated on the pattern at the proper locations with duct tape, and begin folding the CP to bring the edges together. At this point, the three dimensional aspect of the star will begin to form and the star face and back will no longer sit flat. A center hole can now be drilled in the front half.

Randomly insert the lights through the CP. Small pieces of tape on the back side can be used to keep the lights in place. Test the lights and adjust the speed control to the desired shimmering effect.
A 12" length of 3/4" strap iron is used to mount the star to the tree. Drill three 3/8" holes, two - 1" in from the ends and one centered on the strap iron. Bend the bar into the shape as seen in the picture. Begin with a big "U" shape, and then flare out the ends to meet the star's large side tips. Mark the  locations of the end holes onto the Coroplast, which should be the back of the star, and drill it with the 3/8" masonry bit. Next, attach the threaded rod to the center hole of the strap iron with two nuts and two lock washers. Be sure to tighten the nuts as much as possible to prevent the assembly from loosening up and twisting. Mount the strap iron to the back of the star with two 3/8"x 1/2" pan head machine screws. Use washers against the screw heads to prevent it from ripping through the Coroplast. The bar should be centered on the bottom tip and in the same position as the picture to the right.

Now it's time to join the front and back together. Line up the sections and carefully tuck the wires inside. Start threading the cable ties through the front and back holes and snug them tightly. After all the cable ties have been placed, clip the cable tie tails as short as possible.

This completes the assembly. As most trees differ, you will need to mount the star to the top of your tree using your own method of attachment.

1 comment: