I like to think that I have reasonable DIY skills, I can put up shelves, I’ll do a bit of tiling and rewire sockets. That’s probably the level I’m at.
I’ve done a few things in our home that I’m proud of but the thing I’m most proud of are Darcey’s stars. They’re fibre optic lights from a light box placed in our loft that let her stare up at the heavens and never have to worry about clouds! I’ve seen it done before and it’s something that I wanted to do, I just needed an excuse. I thought it would be super difficult but it’s not really, you need to plan it out.
First of all, you need to choose your lights! I purchased Darcey’s from eBay. There are quite a few to choose from, and they can range from £250-£800 depending on where you buy it from. When you’ve decided on where you’re getting the box from, you then have to think about how many fibres you want and also if you want different thicknesses you want. Keep in mind that you will be drilling individual holes for each fibre. I went with 500 fibres in 0.5mm, 0.75mm and 1mm thickness. Most have a IR relay that works with a remote to turn it on/off and also to change the different effects. Also make sure that the fibres are long enough to reach corner to corner of the room to give you flexibility of where you’re going to put the light box.
While you’re waiting for that to arrive, you can start thinking about the pattern/design you want to out on the ceiling. I’m a massive nerd so I wanted the stars to be a true reflection of the real constellations but you obviously don’t have to do that. I went online to find a good star map that had some constellations that I know (basically Orion and The Big Dipper!). To transfer the positions of the stars onto the ceiling you need to split the map into smaller squares. To decide how many squares you need to use, use the cross beams that hold the ceiling as the width, then divide the width in the same intervals the same difference apart as the cross beams. Mark it all out using masking tape. Now divide the star map into the same number as squares as you’ve divided the ceiling into, then mark the stars onto the ceiling using a pencil. Be mindful, of course, of the width of the cross beams. Obviously, if you’re not interested in making it look like the real constellations, you can pretty much ignore most of this bit (should have probably said that at the beginning!). I think it goes without saying, test that it works before you start fixing it all in place!
Now this is all done you can get excited about the tough bit, drilling!
Choose where you’re putting the light box. Darcey’s is in the loft, I’ve drilled a hole to put the IR detector high up, near the ceiling to keep it out of the way. You’ll then need to clear whatever is above the room. We just had rolls of insulation so I just rolled them away, until they were out of the way of the area above the room.
I think it will be impossible to do this part on your own, you will need someone to help either with the drilling, or feeding the fibres through the holes that have been drilled. To make it a whole lot easier for you, it’s best to pick a corner to start on and go straight across to the other side and then go back to the other side and start again on the next line of squares. It will also help to split the bunches of fibres into the different thicknesses and then split each thickness into the number of line lines of squares there are. Secure each bunch with masking tape and write the thickness on to allow you to identify each which bunch is which.
I need to make a special mention about my brother Jord right about now. If it wasn’t for him, I really wouldn’t have been able to have done this. He volenteered to be the guy in the loft – what a hero!
Start with the thickest and do that for each line before doing the next size down. Use the star map to decide which of your pencil markings will be the thickest fibres. Have the person in the roof feed it through until it’s about a little over a foot through and then have them fix it in place with wood glue. Repeat for all thickness of fibres.
To complete Darcey’s stars it took an evening to plan out and three evenings to do all the drilling. Once they’ve all been drilled, check them to make sure that the glue has set them in place. Once this is done, you can cut the fibres to be flush with the ceiling.
Now you’re basically done and free to enjoy your star gazing with getting cold or having your view impeded by clouds!
I’d love to think that someone would read this and decide that they want to try it for themselves. I’ll happily give some advice on what worked for me if you need it (I’m hardily an expert though!). Even if you decide not to try it, hopefully you at least found the process interesting.
That’s about it really…well not quite!
I decided, when I was putting the layout on the roof, that I wanted to deviate slightly from what is actually in our night sky. I’ve put, around the room, the first initial of the the baby names that we liked, along with both mine and Kate’s. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and had a couple of names that we l iked for each, at the time of doing her room. The D for Darcey is directly above her bed, by chance, so it was quite literally written in the stars…