My favorite design element is lighting. Nothing gets me more excited than building a lighting element, plugging it in and watching it set the space aglow. Mix that with my love of anything Vintage-Industrial and you can see how easily I became obsessed with marquee light up signs for the last few years. When I opened up my 2012 Baby and Child catalog from Restoration Hardware I loved finding that they had a cute vintage looking star. unfortunately it was $269. Slightly out of my budget and not very large (24″).
Pottery Barn also has one for sale for $129 again, not very large (22″):
BUT, if you know me at all, you know that I’d almost always rather make it myself than buy it. So, I scoured the internet for tutorials on how to make these little beauties. I combined different techniques from all of the tutorials I found until I created what I think is an AMAZING light for around $12 using coupons and supplies on hand. And, mine is a very large 32″!
Time: 1 day
- One large sheet of foam core board 32″X”40 (Hobby Lobby $8.99)
- One half sheet of foam core board 20′X30″ (Hobby Lobby $5.99)
- Xacto knife
- Printed Template (get star template below or make your own design)
- Glue Gun
- Vinyl Caulk
- Spray Primer
- Silver Craft paint
- White Semi Gloss paint
- 1 string of 25 C7 lights
- Sand Paper
- Drill, small and large drill bits
Place the template back on top of the cut out star and poke the marks for the holes through the foam board. Follow the pencil holes up by drilling a pilot hole with a standard drill. And then one last larger hole with an XL drill bit about the same size as the threads on the C7 light bulbs.
Cut the smaller board into 5 even strips at 4″ wide. Then bevel or miter one end of the strip for the outside points. Cut it to fit one side. Then continue until you have cut 10 sides. I taped them together to hold them in place. They do NOT need to be perfect. Then place several of the C7 bulbs in the star. Turn the star upside down so that they rest on the bulbs. This will give you the depth on the back side of the star to hide all of the cords. Use the hot glue gun to connect the sides to the star. It is ok if it is messy. Fill in all the open spaces, especially at the joints of the inside corners. Finish with glue gun by adding a small messy bead to the surface of the raised sides. This gives it the illusion of a messy cut piece of metal and not clean crisp foam core board.
To further to illusion that this light is made from metal and is old, I added small gobs of Vaseline on the black paper star. Then I sprayed it with white primer mostly so that the final paint would stick to the glue gun glue. Once the primer was dry, I used a paper towel and rubbed it over the surface. Where ever the Vaseline had been, the primer didn’t stick leaving a black spot behind.
After the primer dried, I realized the glue gun glue looked horrendous. Not the way I had intended it. I then busted out some vinyl caulk from my basement and caulked all of the seams. I even added caulk to the raised surface over the bead of glue. Now THAT was the look I was going for, messy welds.
After I added more Vaseline over the black rubbed off spots, I covered the entire front and sides of the star with 2/3 of a small bottle of silver paint.
Doesn’t it look like metal? I’m not sure how well these photos show it, but in real life, it looks JUST like a metal star.
I grabbed some sand paper to pull out more of the black under the Vaseline. And added another coat of Vaseline over the black and over random spots on the surface and joints of the star before coating the inside with two final coats of white semi-gloss house paint I had in the garage.
Then a quick sand to the back of the star to clean up or tear off any excess paper in prep for installing the lights.
I had a few multi colored C7 string lights laying around so I took out all of the white light bulbs and screwed them into the board. Literally, my holes were so tight that I had to thread them through. Then I screwed them in very tight through the board till they dented the foam core board creating a tight perfect fit. This was honestly the hardest part, you have to screw them really tight to get a good connection in order for them to light up. And seriously, look at those joints…tell me they do not look like welds!
I am absolutely in love with this star. It is light as a feather, flexible, messy and looks like a vintage industrial star that I picked up at some great antique shop. I kept the outside edge silver but I think it could look awesome in a rusty-red too.
The joints, especially the mitered corners on the five points turned out so crisp and metallic. I also love the white lights rather than the clear because they are a warm incandescent bulb without the glare of a clear bulb. Plus with the warm almost yellow glow, it gives an even more authentic antique look.
The missing chunks of white paint throughout the center and seems shows the antique ware of the star being outside or not well taken care of.
This would be pretty cute around the fourth of July to switch out some of the white bulbs for red and blue, right?
I am ready to make another marquee sign, it took a while for each layer to dry, but was actually pretty simple and straight forward to create. There is definitely an arrow in my future. I’m seriously giddy about this project, and I can’t wait to show you where I’m going to hang it! Stay tuned for that post coming soon.