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Star Stuck

So…

… I guess it’s time to break down (pun fully intended) and buy another dish rack.

I am not, however, non-plussed. Because I have fancy plans for this piece of “junk.” Oh-ho-ho-ye-eah.

See, we need some kind of outdoor wall art. There’s a large, empty space to the right of the door & I simply won’t have that. Its throwing off the whole feng shui of the porch. I can feel it in my duodenum.

And this year, everybody’s all into starburst mirrors. My inner child is thrilled. The 7-year-old Amy is turning cartwheels & flashing her best Pearl Drops smile!!

But I didn’t want to use an actual mirror for our starburst, because the late afternoon sun hits our porch just so… and I just knew that our mirror would catch that sunlight, bounce it across the street & directly into our neighbor’s living room like a super-powered-laser.

And she likes us. And we hope to keep it that way.

I briefly considered frosting a mirror to cut the glare, which I think would work & has the potential to look way cool. If any of you try it, please send me pics!

But, in the end we decided against a mirror & started to consider other options for the center of the starburst.

After much conferencing, we decided a simple dinner plate would be best for our starburst center. Waterproof? Check. Won’t blind our nice neighbor? Check. Looks cool? Well, it’s red Fiesta Ware, so check.

Plus, since Dan’s a chef, it provides a subtle personal touch 🙂

Heh, heh. He’s gonna kill me when he sees I posted this.

So — here’s how I constructed it:

First, I disassembled the dish rack by gently pulling on the center part of each piece of wood (for even pressure). Fortunately, the glue was old & the little tiny staple-nails didn’t give me too much trouble. Once I’d pried them off, I removed all of the little staple things with my…? Yup. Needle nose pliers. Man, those things are handy.

Tip: Keep a lidded container nearby when removing nails, staples, etc. Because stepping on shrapnel is fun for nobody.

After disassembly, I pulled off all the little glue gobs & gave each wood stick a good wipe down with a clean cloth. I considered sanding them for a more finished look … but frankly, this is an outdoor piece. I don’t want to over primp. Besides, it would take forever to sand every one of those skinny, four-sided bastards. And I don’t have all minute.

So, I sent my inner perfectionist to Starbucks to fetch fat free mochas with whole milk & whipped cream — heh, heh, that argument should keep her busy for a while — and just hit the sticks with some stain without sanding. I chose ‘golden oak’ and ‘dark walnut’ stains to give the piece some variation.

Brush it on, wipe it off. Gotta love stain.

Worthy of note: Stain only works on bare wood. If your materials are painted, you MUST sand THOROUGHLY before staining.

Then I let the newly-stained sticks dry overnight.

Once they were dry, I laid out my pattern to get a better idea of where I wanted to position each individual stick. This wasn’t hard at all. Starburst patterns are so forgiving, they’re practically idiot-proof.

Just use your offshoot pieces to make a splayed pattern underneath the edge of your center piece.

Once your confidence is high, turn the center piece over & start gluing. You can choose whatever placement you like. Want it all to be uniform? OK. Want it to be all random? Cool. It’s up to you! 🙂

So, I flipped my plate & got to gluin’. While most of the other starbursters out there use a hot glue gun, I chose to go with Gorilla Glue instead.

Why?

1) This is an outdoor piece/kinda heavy. I worried that hot glue wouldn’t hold up to the weather/strain.

2) The back of the plate is uneven. I don’t know how well hot glue guns work on uneven surfaces.

3) I don’t actually own a glue gun. I probably should. It would certainly come in handy.

Unfortunately, I have this weird psychological block when it comes to hot glue guns. When I was in college, everybody had one. They’d use them to make puffy photo album covers & picture frames with wooden sorority letters all over them. It was never my style, though I hardly have a problem with glue gunners. I’m just more of an industrial adhesive chick than a hot glue girl. Just a ‘different strokes’ sort of thing.

So, I used Gorilla Glue, which I’m familiar with. It works great on uneven surfaces. It’s some kind of glue-foam hybrid that actually expands to fill empty spaces. It’s not pretty — looks like bubbly tree sap when it dries — but the back of the plate won’t show anyway, so… Gorilla me, baby!

Tip: Avoid accidentally gluing your starburst to the table by laying down some wax paper. (Forgot to get pic of that, sorry.)

Anyway, I glued the biggest sticks in a somewhat-but-not-totally-evenly-spaced basic starburst pattern. I used a flower pot to hold them in place as they dried so they’d stay flat.

Then I glued more of the sticks on, kind of willy-nilly, one size at a time. There really isn’t much that’s teachable about this process. Just go with your instincts & make sure you move around the piece as you glue.

Don’t work on a small section at a time. You’ll bunch up your sticks without realizing it & your starburst will be all lopsided. Yes it will. Yes it will. (Jeez.)

I used rolled-up washcloths & such to prop the sticks up at random angles. That way, the starburst will be all multi-dimensional 🙂

It took me 3 stick & dry sessions to achieve my desired effect. I did the first two with the plate face-down, then the third face-up so I could layer the shortest sticks between the ones in back more evenly.

I used copious amounts of glue & even cut out a circle of cardboard to stick on the back to further encourage my creation to join together into one big, glorious glob of adhesion.

(OK. I kind of went overboard with the glue. So sue me.)

If you make the same overzealous misstep, don’t fret! The best thing about dried Gorilla Glue is that you can trim away excess! Of course, I’m not gonna blow sun where the sun don’t shine, if you catch my drift. Trimming away excess foamy glue from between a ceramic plate & a bunch of tilty sticks isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

I used a flathead screwdriver for gentle, careful prying & needlenose pliers for grabbing. This combo allowed me to get rid of the bigger chunks. I left the rest alone, because:

1) I was afraid too much futzing would dislodge my sticks.

2) The back won’t show anyway.

Finally, I got ‘er ready for hanging by adding a plate hanger.

MUY IMPORTANTE!! If you’re gonna try this method, put the plate hanger on first so you can glue your sticks around it. Trust me. It was NOT easy to get it on once the sticks were stuck. Oops.

I like to imagine the archeology intern who someday discovers a single red plate with bizarre foamy stuff, wire & cardboard stuck to it. “Um… Dr. Professor Big Shot Archaeologist? What the HECK is THIS thing?!?”

Then, because the sticks increase the depth of the plate — which pushes the plate further from the wall than the plate-hanger specifications allow, I added some picture wire from which to hang the starburst on the wall.

And viola! A starburst!

We’re kind of crazy for it. It turned out SO cool. A hip young couple strolling by with their baby & dog actually stopped to compliment us on it before we even had it fully hung!!!

I mean, can you blame them? ;->

It’s also a nice visual draw to detract from the large, bathroom-caulk-filled holes leftover from where our old mailbox was “mounted.” (Seriously, one letter too many & that whole box would have fallen off the wall.) Dan’s theory is that the handyman had to use caulk to hold the screw anchors in the wall. The mortar is… well… not superawesome.

Dan, Dan the starburst-hangin’ man says: “If your anchor won’t stay in, step away from the caulk. Try breaking off part of a pencil inside your drill hole instead — worked for me!”

NEXT POST: THE BIG KAHUNA. THE MAIN EVENT. THE WHOLE KIT & CABOODLE. IN OTHER WORDS… THE CURB-APPEAL PROJECT REVEAL. TONS OF PICS = TONS OF FUN!!! 

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18 thoughts on “Star Stuck

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  9. Rachel McFarland on said:

    This is very cool! I have a big blank space in my outdoor entry area….something like this is exactly what we need to brighten the wall and make me smile everytime I come home! Thanks for the fun idea!

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