Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Stars

As you might have guessed, a polyhedron enthusiast like me would never settle for an angel on the top of his Christmas tree. Or one of those regular star polygons in a paltry two dimensions. Nope, I need at least a small stellated dodecahedron to feel like a true "polyhedronist".

So, this year I decided to go whole hog with the fancy star. I chose a 32-pointed stellation of the icosahedron to adorn the tree and got a hold of some beautiful metallic paper to build it.

Tragically, this was not to be.

After building about half the star I realized that the metallic colors, although they looked good up close, were *way* too dark. It looked more like a funeral star than a Christmas star. Now, I did end up finishing building it, but by that time it was the day before Christmas Eve (i.e. Christmas Eve Eve).

So, goodbye fancy 32 pointed star.

The next day we headed out to Michael's for some materials to build ornaments (we usually spend Christmas Eve making the ornaments for our tree). We had decided on a teal-themed tree, so that was the logical color to make the new star. One problem: Michaels did not carry 5 tones of teal card stock. You see, icosahedral stellations have to have a specific, five-color arrangement in order for adjacent faces to be different colors.

Michaels did, however, have some nice two tone card stock, but I was skeptical of how this would look. Still, my Dad convinced my to use this new paper, and to give each face 2 colors. And since there was no time to cut out the 60 parts for my fancy icosahedral star (of death), we had to scale back to a Great Stellated Dodecahedron, which has a measly 20 points.

At this point I should probably admit that I did not think that this was a good idea. I wanted a 32-pointed, 5-color star that would make the rest of the tree look like it was decorated by toddlers. But my Dad got me to make a 20-pointed, 5-color star instead. Hmph.

Well, I built the new star out of the darker shade of blue, and, at my Dad's suggestion, cut out a bunch of chevron-shaped pieces from the lighter blue and glued them on the faces of the star.

I have to admit that the effect was a lot cooler than I had hoped. When we (yes, my Dad helped with this part) finished gluing all the little chevrons to the faces it looked like the star was lit up with blue fire. I mounted it by carefully cutting slits in one of the points and sliding a dowel through to the opposite point and securing it to the tree with wire. It looked quite nice up there-much better than my previous "star of death".

So, the lesson here is that your Dad is (sometimes) right. But it should be noted that it was he who bought the evil metallic cardstock in the first place. And next year I will build a star with at least 32 points, and out of nice bright colors this time.