This year our Christmas tree was having a "Rudolf's Sweet Shop" theme and so we needed a fitting star to go on top. After hunting in shops and online and not being able to find one, it was time to get my Instructables hat on!
The ideal star for the tree would be big, bright red and add something extra to the tree. We both love the old circus style signs so the idea of the Retro Circus Christmas Star was born!
An 11-inch cheesecake tin
3mm mdf sheet
6 x brass bulb holders
6 x 25 watt pygmy bulbs
A can of red spray paint
1 metre length of hollow chrome tubing
2 x brass pipe clips (to fir the tubing)
Some spare electrical flex and a plug
Step 1: The Design
To get the retro sign look and feel, the star had to be made of metal. As all my DIY projects are made on the floor or on top of my toolbox, I thought I'd need a bit of help with creating the metal edge. Luckily I managed to find an 11-inch, star-shaped aluminium cheesecake mould on a popular online auction site :) The mould didn't have a base so I bought some 3mm mdf sheet and set about making one which I could recess inside. To create the base, I simply put the star on the sheet of mdf and traced around the inside of the mould.
Step 2: Fit the Lights
To make sure the lights were all equally spaced, I drew lines linking the "arrow heads" of the star. Where the lines crossed also gave me the center of the star for the 6th bulb.
The mounting rings from the bulb holders were unscrewed, placed on the base and marked around the inside - this was 6cm in from the points for me. To cut out the circles, drill as many holes as you can inside each of the circles and finish them off with a file.
Then test fit everything together!
Step 3: The Mount
Although the star was fairly light in weight, I didn't want to risk simply sticking it on top of the tree and hoping for the best. I bought a metre length of hollow chrome tubing and cut a small hole in the base of the star so the tubing could pass up inside the edge and behind the recessed wooden base. This would mean that I could then cable tie the chrome tubing to the tree trunk at several places further down the tree where the trunk was stronger, and it would also mean that I could pass the electric cable down inside the tubing to hide it from view.
Step 4: Fix and Spray
Most of the old style signs that we wanted to emulate were made of metal and spot welded by hand. This wasn't an option considering the base was made of wood, so after a few test runs I discovered that good old hot glue covered in paint can actually look very similar to painted spot welding. Nice.
The base was then hot-glued in place by running a small amount of glue around the edge of the wooden base where it met the metal frame. A larger amount of hot glue was used on the reverse as this would never be seen. The star was then placed on an upturned cup and sprayed. To get a good covering, make sure you shake the can well and spray from about 20cms away. Give several thin coats rather then 1 heavy one and you should end up with a good even finish.
Step 5: Reassemble and Wire Together
The bulb holders were then refitted to the star and everything was wired together (apologies for the lack of picture but I'll describe it as best I can and add a picture as soon as the tree is down). The main flex was run to the center bulb so that it could pass down the hollow tube mount. The other bulbs were "ganged" together in-turn in parallel using more electrical flex. The hollow tube was fixed in place using brass pipe clips attached to the 4 screws you can see in the picture (again, apologies for the lack of a picture but I'll add one as soon as I can).
The star was secured to the tree by cable-tying the hollow tubing to the tree trunk, and everything was plugged into a dimmer plug so the brightness could be controlled.....