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Create a US Flag from a Bamboo Blind!

I love this country!

(Why did I hear that in the voice of Yakov in my head?)

But it's true. I love America. I am so thankful for our freedom, and so thankful to those who have fought to gain and protect those freedoms. It sounds cliche', but I mean it!

Heck, my birthday is even on the 3rd of July. Yes, the 3rd. Close enough! The whole country sets off fireworks on and around my birthday. So me and Old Glory, we've been tight since Day 1!

So when I was scratching my head trying to figure out what to do with this 70's-era bamboo roll-up blind that I acquired in an auction, a light bulb went off! I realized it would make a great American flag for my porch!

(Just an aside...In this picture you can kind of see the treadle sewing machine legs that my dad recycled to make my tables. So yeah, I come by my trash-to-treasure genes from way back!)

I decided I wanted my flag to be "correct" as far as dimensions were concerned. I knew that it was proper for the blue field of stars to be at the top left when the flag is hanging vertically. And we learn in grade school that there are 7 red stripes and 6 white ones. After a little research, I discovered this really cool site that let me put in any one dimension of my flag, and it gave me the correct dimensions for every other aspect.

I didn't want to make the blind any shorter, so I put in its 70 inches for the length, and boom! I had all the other dimensions I needed: overall width, length and width of the union (which I learned is what the blue field behind the stars is officially called), the proper size of each star and how far they should be from the union edge and from each other, and the width of the stripes.

So the first thing I had to do (after I cleaned both sides of the can see my tub of soapy water in the picture above also) was to cut the blind to the correct width. For my 70-inch-long flag, the width should be 36 and 31/32 inches.

Um, ok. I wanted it to be correct, but I didn't want to make myself crazy. Do you know how small a thirty-second of an inch is? Pretty small! And that "correct" width was a 32nd of an inch away from 37. Close enough! (Hmm...Am I starting to sense a theme here? ;)

I found the center of the width of the blind and marked it. Ok, time for a little math here. Ready?

  • 37 divided by 2 is 18 1/2.

Ok, that's all the math!

So I made a mark 18 1/2 inches from the middle on each side. This was where the blind needed to be cut to be the correct (close enough!) width and still keep everything centered.

To cut the blind, I rolled it up tightly so I could cut through it in layers using a hacksaw. I marked where my cut needed to be, and to keep it from unrolling, I taped both around it and across the end. Taping across the end helped keep the inside layers from shifting side to side. (That was my theory anyway!)

Showing where the blind was marked for cutting.
Showing where the blind was marked for cutting...
Showing the edges taped to keep the blind rolled up while cutting.
...and taped to keep it rolled up.

Before I taped it, to get the edges as even as you can see in the picture, I stood the rolled blind on end on the floor and tapped it a bit. This made all the edges meet the floor, then I taped across them to keep them from shifting (much) while I did the cutting.

Ahhh, the cutting! That was certainly the most tedious part of this entire project. I used a hacksaw with a new blade (highly recommend a NEW blade!) All I can say is, just grit your teeth and keep sawing! It took some time, and sweat, and I might have cussed a little. But I got through it, on both ends, including going through the board at the top of the blind.

After the cutting, I untaped and unrolled the blind on the table, then wiped it all down again to get rid of any sawdust.

Finally! Ready to paint!

The next step was to measure and tape off where the blue union went, then I painted that in. I used Liquitex acrylic paint in phthalocyanine blue (which I'll just call dark blue ;) lightened with a little Liquitex acrylic titanium white, as seen in this picture.

But then I decided the blue wasn't dark enough, so I painted the union a second time using straight dark blue. (You'll see that in photos further down the page.)

Next, I measured and marked where the stripes were to go. At first I used painter's tape and taped off part of the first white stripe. I started to paint it, then decided to just "eyeball" the placement of the rest of the stripes. I had a mark for the width of each one, and with all the natural lines created by the strings woven through the blind, it was easy enough to maintain a straight line by sight and not waste all that tape.

Then it was easy to go back and paint in the red stripes. For these I used Palmer Prism Acrylic in Holly Berry. I just filled in between the white stripes. Done! (with that!)

Finally, I painted the stars. I knew the stars would "make" the flag, so I saved them for last.

To place the stars correctly in relation to each other, I made a stencil. First, in Paint on my laptop, I created 3 stars of the right dimensions individually and spaced properly.

I printed these on paper, then traced them onto a sheet of clear heavy plastic. I cut out the three stars, and with my homemade stencil I went to town painting white stars on a dark blue union...

Ok, so what I apparently DON'T have pictures of is my Big Mistake.

There are actually nine rows of stars on the US flag. I had painted seven rows and was starting on the 8th. Something wasn't quite right...I counted the stars I had painted and realized I was going to be significantly short of 50 when I was done! That's when I saw that I had placed the very first row incorrectly, so all the rest were in the wrong place too.

No! Sigh...

So the union received a THIRD coat of dark blue paint, covering the stars that had probably taken me an hour to complete. Oh well. Old Glory is worth getting it right!

Then she got all 50 titanium white stars, right where they belonged.

Lastly, I wanted to protect her from the elements, so she got a coat of polyurethane. Shiny!

At last! She was ready to hang on the porch! My son helped me and we got her securely screwed to the porch rafters.

I think she looks great! What do you think??

P.S. Just looking at the closeup I realize I forgot to do something...I'm going to fold the still-brown "valance" up a bit and glue it in place. Then it won't hang down and cover the top edge of the union. A little project for another day!

Til next time!


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