Star Ceiling Chronicles

Star field I've painted. The fiber optic threads hanging down will be trimmed soon, and we'll turn on the lights.
Star field I've painted. The fiber optic threads hanging down will be trimmed soon, and we'll turn on the lights. Click for a better view...

Jared is not the sort to let being out of work slow him down.  Anticipating our regular winter lull, last fall we’d purchased materials to finish our basement. In less than ten days, my kids will officially have their own rooms. My laundry room no longer resembles Shelob’s Lair.  The ‘rock star stage’ (a layer of bricks stuck to the cement – the kids used to dance on it when they were small enough) has been jack hammered and air-chiseled out, and is being replaced with built-in shelving.  And we’ll have a small but nifty home theater complete with a star ceiling!

Definitely the most novel feature of our basement-to-be, you’ve probably heard me mention the star ceiling project before. This weekend I attempted to paint a mural inspired by the Vela Supernova remnant.  Because the bronze spraypaint was particularly splattery, this didn’t quite work out as planned. But the effect is still pretty neat.  Hopefully within a few more days I’ll be able to photograph the finished effect with the fiber-optic stars shining too!

Here’s what it took to get this far…

Since we didn't have access to the ceiling from above, we threaded fiber optic strings through holes we'd drilled in sheetrock, taped and glued them into place, and then hung the pieces in sections
Taping the fiber optic threads
Jared screwing the sheetrock into place
Jared screwing the sheetrock into place
Painted the ceiling very dark blueish black
Painted the ceiling very dark blueish black

Since we didn’t have access to the ceiling from above, we started by hanging new pieces of sheetrock and cutting out holes where the canned lights were. Then we un-did those screws and brought the sheetrock back to ground level where we could work on it.

We also bought about 130 meters of fiber optic ‘star pack’ cable that had 40 strands of varying width jacketed into one thick cable.

After mapping out a few of our favorite constellations, we threw in other stars randomly, which turns out to have not been the best idea – can’t see the constellations anymore! Then we drilled tiny holes with a needle-sized Dremel bit. The holes were so tiny — significantly smaller than the flecks on the sheetrock, we had to circle them so we could see them. Jared carefully pushed the fiber optic strings through holes we’d drilled in sheetrock, taped and glued them into place, and then hung the pieces in sections.

The process was very laborious and beyond tedious. I can see why this costs a fortune to have it done by someone else. But Jared figured as long as he wasn’t working anyway, why not? And the effect is very cool, at least if you’re an astronomy lover like me.

12 thoughts on “Star Ceiling Chronicles

  1. I can’t wait either! I’m starting to wonder just how many people we can cram in there for a movie.

    By the way, can you see the trim in the one picture? It still needs to be painted. But Jared would haven’t been able to make it that cool without your awesome advice. Thanks Jacob!

    Like

  2. I can’t wait either! I’m starting to wonder just how many people we can cram in there for a movie.

    By the way, can you see the trim in the one picture? It still needs to be painted. But Jared would haven’t been able to make it that cool without your awesome advice. Thanks Jacob!

    Like

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