Thursday, December 06, 2012
Let me tell you the one about the star.
When it came time to put up the Christmas decorations, I knew what I wanted above the fireplace mantle: a star. A three-dimensional star.
I wouldn't begin to know how to craft a five-point three-dimensional star. I looked online. I carefully copied and pasted directions, tutorials, and photos. Thankfully, I had these with me at my parent's house over Thanksgiving weekend. During the Egg Bowl game I desperately needed a distraction.
Over after-dinner coffee and a piece of pumpkin praline torte, I read over the directions again and frowned. "That seems like a heckuva lot of trouble. I'll just freehand a star."
My sister-in-law, Karen, took pity on me. She quickly determined that first we needed to make a large circle. Then all we'd have to do is figure out five equal points and from there, draw the star.
"Okay, so how do we figure circumference?" she said to me.
"Uhhhhh...pi r something something? I think? Maybe?"
She had a kind look on her face. I know she was thinking, Bless your heart. Karen has mad math skilz. Me? NOT SO MUCH.
Mom located a protractor. We had the protractor, a yardstick, two ink pens, a measuring tape, and a plastic ruler. Karen fashioned a compass out of a safety pin, ribbon, and a pencil. She held the safety pin in the middle of the piece of cardboard while I carefully moved the pencil in a circle around. Only I'm crap at keeping the tension and pressure even. We realized that wasn't going to work, not if the circle was to be perfectly round. According to my mother and Karen, the circle must be perfectly round.
Karen looked around the house and found a lazy susan in the kitchen that was just the right size. We traced around it.
We figured out how to get the circumference of the circle. (And by we, I mean Karen, Jeffrey, my dad, my brother, and Mom remembered how to determine the circumference of a circle. I didn't understand geometry in 1989 and I certainly don't now.)
We had to know the circumference so we could figure out the angle of the five points. I think. Truly, I was lost often during this process. I was busy being very grateful to my sister in law and my mom.
Every now and then Jeffrey would tear away from the game, glance at us sprawled on the floor working so hard and so earnestly. He said, "You can't tell me you can't find a star like you want on Etsy. Or Target."
He was missing the point; this was fun. This was memory-making! This was ... a royal pain for Karen, I'm sure, but she was a valiant soldier.
Next we (and again by we, I mean Karen and Mom) figured out that each of the five points needed to be approximately 16.96 inches apart. Karen measured, I marked with a pen. Only it didn't come out even. We did it twice more and ended up all three times with the points at different spots. I was of a mind that it really didn't matter all that much. (I'm big on, "Oh, hey, that's fine!") Mom kept saying, "It's all about the angles! They each have to be the same size or it won't work!"
My Christmas mantle star didn't have any work to do, per se. Just sit there and look pretty.
Karen held the ruler to the line we'd trace to help me cut a nice straight line. I ended up shaving up a great deal of the yardstick in the process but it was totally worth it.
We got the star cut out and I held it up. My dad, who'd thrown his head back and laughed at Patrick, was genuinely impressed.
Next Karen wondered how'd we'd make the star three-dimensional.
"You know what," I told her, "I think it looks fine just like this." I didn't want to think about what kind of crazy math we'd have to do next to figure out where to score lines and at what angles to bend.
If Karen was going to do this, though, she was going to do it right. We measured some more, marked lines, lightly scored lines with my handy exacto knife. Karen carefully bent the scored lines into shape and Y'ALL. It took on shape and looked fabulous.
This was about the time that Mom insisted we autograph our creation.
My sister in law puzzled over how to make it so the star points would each hold their three-dimensional-ness. This was oh, I don't know, one or two hours into the project. She would not rest until it was done right. (I wish for everyone a Karen in their lives.) "Wait, I know. Get some blocks of wood and nestle them in each point."
Jeffrey caulked along the edges and put rubber bands in place to hold the points until the caulk dried. It worked perfectly.
I painted it a matte copper color, a choice that left most everyone puzzled but I think looks good.
Makes me happy.