Hexagonal Glow in the Dark Meteor Starscape




Introduction: Hexagonal Glow in the Dark Meteor Starscape

About: Educator | Engineer | Makerspace Enthusiast

In summer 2019 a meteor ripped across the sky over the Modoc National Forest in north eastern California. It was so bright that stargazers attending the Golden State Star Party - a local annual astronomy event - turned their heads and shielded their eyes thinking some yahoo had turned on their car's high beams.

The burning white streak in the sky faded to green and vanished into the horizon. My dear friend Henner Zeller had been taking long exposure shots throughout the night and happened to capture this gorgeous sight. I loved it so much I wanted it on my wall!

Looking into the stars makes me feel small and humble. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area makes stargazing nearly impossible, so I devised a way to enjoy the stars at night when the sun goes down...


  1. 4' x 8' sheet of 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood
  2. Titebond I wood glue
  3. Cotton canvas


  1. Laser cutter capable of cutting through 1/4" Baltic Birch
  2. DTG Printer to print the hexagons on canvas. This one may be difficult to find in your local makerspace, but you can commission a local direct to garment manufacturer.
  3. Staple gun with 1/4" staples
  4. Clamps
  5. Inkscape or other vectoring software. I like Inkscape because it's powerful, easy to use, free, and open source.

Step 1: Hexagon-ify Your Image With Inkscape

A few items I wanted to highlight in Henner's meteor were the meteor itself, the skyline, and the milkyway standing tall on the left.

Use Inkscape to draw hexagons in the real-life size that will fit your DTG printer. Draw secondary inner-hexagons to give you an idea of how large your wooden frame will be.

Position your hexagon vectors over your photo and move your photo around until the items you want to highlight are within your inner-hexagons. That's what will show on the front of your frames.

Step 2: DTG Print Your Vectored Image on Canvas

Cut your canvas fabric to the platen size that will fit on your DTG printer. If you're providing material to a local direct to garment manufacturer, discuss the maximum size that works for their machine.

After printing, the ink will need to be heat pressed, otherwise, it'll smudge and stain anything it touches. For cotton canvas, I heat pressed at 350'F for 35 seconds. This may seem like overkill, but that ink is going _nowhere_ now.

Step 3: Laser Cut Your Wood

Once you've determined the size of hexagons that will fit on your DTG printer, you can determine the size you should laser cut your birch plywood. I wanted my fabric to wrap around the edges of the frame, so I had to account for the extra material needed.

Using the inner hexagons created in Inkscape, I laser cut 4 pieces for each frame out of 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood, with 1 inner layer being the piece to attach wire for hanging on the wall. This brought the total thickness of each frame to 1", which meant for my fabric to wrap around the frame, I'd have to ensure each frame was at least 1.5" smaller on each side than the print on my canvas fabric. This is where the inner & outer hexagons in Inkscape will save you!

Step 4: Glue 'em Up!

Lining up all 4 layers and gluing them up with Titebond I was time-consuming, but a welcome reprieve from all the math and measuring from laser cutting and printing! I use Titebond I instead of II or III because I only need the basic adhesive. The frames should hold together on a wall indoors; they don't need to be water-resistant or water-proof.

Step 5: Fit Your Frames

The time has come! Fitting your frames is a great way to double-check that the outer hexagon you made in Inkscape fits the real-life inner hexagon well enough that the print wraps around your laser cut frame's edges. Does it pass the test? Excellent! You're nearly done!

Step 6: Staple to Frame

Staple it up! Start on one side, and firmly wrap the fabric over the edge like you'd wrap a package.

Step 7: Glow in the Dark Dots!

I initially planned to use a toothpick to dot each star, but the nozzle on my glow in the dark fabric paint worked really well on its own.

Let it dry, and light it up!

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