Beginnings: The Friday after Thanksgiving, the town of Salida has their annual tree lighting which includes Tenderfoot Mountain lit up in the shape of a giant Christmas tree and then celebrated with fireworks. It's pretty spectacular. We love this tradition and had planned on our yearly attendance when, of course, the children get sick. The family was pretty disappointed on missing the event so I decided to surprise them with our own version of a holiday lighting celebration.
After a nap and several cups of coffee I sprinted about to add some garish holiday cheer to our world. I cut down willow, crossed the icy creek, climbed the mountain behind the house, built a star, wrapped it in solar LED lights, and chucked it off the cliff. Here are the steps for a DIY holiday star to brighten your rocky outcroppings (or fence, or driveway...).
1) Find your material: My goal, as always, is to use what's on hand to save money and stretch the creative tissues in the brain. I have an abundance of willow so used willow branches. The rest of the supplies included zip ties, loppers, solar lights, wire and paracord.
For strength I used three willow branches per line on the star. I used loppers to cut the willow from the ground, remove the smaller branches, and then trim them to the equal sizes.
Step 2: Practice your knots. When you're perched on a cliff edge exposed to the wind, you want your fingers to know what they're doing.
Step 3: Find your spot. The rocky outcropping here with the tree is where I'll hang my star. It will have NW exposure so the solar panel will get enough juice. And the best part - my children will be able to gaze upon the star from their bedroom window.
Step 4: Assemble your star. I hauled my supplies, equipment, and four month old baby up the cliff and built the star at the project site. I do not recommend this approach. For all of my subsequent projects I found it easier to construct in the yard and then, even though awkward because of size, bring the art to it's resting place completed. You'll weave the the willow over and under for stability.
Step 5: Secure the star. I used zip ties. Use freely, don't be shy. Buy stock in the product if it makes you feel better. All connections need to be secure as they will be exposed to the elements like wind and snow and you don't want to have to return for adjustments.
Step 6: Wrap the star with lights. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped the star with the solar lights. I used wire to roughly hold the lights, then finished it off with zip ties. All points were secured with more zip ties. Make sure to secure the solar panel to the point of excess. You do not want this coming loose in any way. Below is an Amazon link with the solar lights that I used.
Step 7: Tie your rope to a point of the star and secure to a tree or rock.
Step 8: Chuck your star over the cliff.
Step 9: Enjoy!