I know most people don't want to hear it, but Christmas is right around the corner. I, for one, am super excited - this is my favorite time of the year. In fact, it snowed for the first time this season today and in true holiday spirit, I jumped on an idea I had for a Christmas tree topper - the star from the Mario games. I did a lot of research online, figuring the idea was already a thing, with the intent of buying the best one I could find. Turns out it only exists as a crappy cardboard replica or a poorly crocheted attempt. Not to mention nothing I found actually lit up.
So I said "fuck it yolo" and headed off to the store to gather the supplies to make one for myself. It turned out to be a relatively inexpensive project (minus the $58575883 worth of Christmas lights I bought, thinking I might need them, and didn't even use) and I found almost everything I needed at Walmart.
- Clear, plastic tree topper - $10
- Single light cord and bulb - $3
- Yellow tablecloth - $0.97
- Yellow glass paint (got it at Micheal's) - $3
- Black vinyl scraps - $0
- Hot glue gun
- Rubbing alcohol
Getting the right tree topper was the most difficult part of this project, to be honest. In fact, if you're lucky enough to find a plain, yellow star without any bullshit tinsel or tacky-ass designs all over it, not only would you need to tell me where you got it immediately, but all you would have to do is slap a pair of eyes on it and it will look 100 times more professional. Unfortunately for me, the world doesn't work that easily, thus the need for other supplies.
I ended up going with the most generic looking star I could find. Even then it still had weird texture/design to it, but I was too happy to have found the actual default star shape to care. It had LED lights already inside of it, which was what I wanted, but they glowed every other color in existence except for yellow. No problem, I'll just open it up and switch out the bulbs to yellow, right? LOLNOPE. The star was easy enough to pop open, but instead of bulbs, there was a tiny motherboard/chip glued in the middle with the tiniest lights I had ever seen. And of course, none of the 9543932020933 extra types of bulbs I bought as precautionary backups would work as a swap. Thankfully, I last minute impulse bought this single 4 ft light cord and bulb.
The only problem? It was a white bulb. To be true to Mario, this star had to glow yellow, so I improvised with a bit of glass paint I found at Micheal's. I went with glass paint because not only is it resistant to heat (probably a good thing considering it would lathered all over a light bulb that's going to be in use for 30 straight days), but it allows the light to shine through it, unlike regular acrylic paint. This was my first time using glass paint and the instructions on the bottle were less than helpful (Martha Stewart is useless), so I did a little Googling beforehand and found that it's best to clean the bulb with rubbing alcohol to better help adhere the paint to the glass.
After a good rub down and letting the bulb dry, I was ready to paint! To protect the metal piece of the bulb, I wrapped it in painter's tape - I rather the light not explode and catch fire on top of my slowly dying, dried out Christmas tree because I accidentally introduced chemicals to the part that conducted electricity.
Painting this little guy was somewhat disastrous. After giving it it's first coat, I plugged it in to see how it looked before applying it's second coat. Aside from the obvious paint strokes, it seemed fine, and I proceeded with coat number 2 after it had dried. ABORT! I repeat, ABORT MISSION. Do NOT apply a second coat. Turned off, the bulb appears to look the same. Turned on, however, it's a thick, blotchy, I-should-go-back-to-preschool-to-learn-how-to-paint-immediately mess. Terrible life decision on my part. Luckily, a little bit of rubbing alcohol look the paint right off and I was able to start over with a clean slate...one coat of paint this time.
No matter what, the obvious paint strokes were inevitable. Even the internet said so. It goes inside the star, however, so you won't ever really notice.
Originally, I was going to vinyl on some eyes, secure the light bulb inside, and leave it at that, but it didn't really glow as bright of a yellow as I wanted it to, nor was it a yellow star when turned off. It was unrecognizable. So I used a little trick I discovered recently with solar powered pumpkin lights I crafted for Halloween - a table cloth! For $0.97, I found a yellow table cloth to cover it with. Setting the star down, I traced the shape of the star, being sure to leave some extra room. I also cut a slit in each corner.
The slits allowed me to fold each edge of the edges of the star. With a little hot glue, I secured them to the plastic and used scissors to trim up any excess for a clean look.
The very last step was the eyes, which I hand cut out of black vinyl scraps I had laying around. I've noticed they've been unsticking because the table cloth is a weird texture, so I might dab a little hot glue to them later to ensure they don't fall off. Just be careful not to burn through the cloth.
And that's how you make an inexpensive, badass Mario themed tree topper for your nerdy needs. Be sure to comment with some pictures if you decide to tackle this project!