My American Flag using Pennies – The Beginning (Part 1 of 2)
This is part one of a two part series celebrating Memorial Day. Enjoy.
As usual, for me, this journey began somewhere in cyberspace. I’m not sure exactly where I saw it first, but when I did, I immediately fell in love with it. How cool would it be to make an American Flag out of pennies. It would be super cool of course. And I knew I couldn’t just make a small one like I had seen on the internet I had to go big so I decided on the size of 3′ x 5′. It seemed like a good round number and was larger than anything I had seen. Go big or go home I guess.
To start I had to have a base. I needed something that would be strong enough to hold the weight of the pennies but light enough to not add a lot of additional weight as my plan was to hang this once completed. I decided to use a 3/8″ plywood sheet. For most of the projects you will see on this blog, my beautiful wife does all or 99.9% of them, however for this one she only played a supporting role. Basically anything that involved construction, no matter
how basic, she executed. She got the whole thing rolling buy purchasing a 4′ x 8′ pre-cut piece of plywood and cutting it down to 3’8″ x 5’8″. She left 4″ extra on each side for the border she would build later on. Next my wife stained the base with a dark stain. We did this to give it a darker look between the pennies. We didn’t want the bare plywood to show through giving an unfinished look.
Now with a solid base to work with it was time to get some pennies. Although at first I wasn’t exactly sure where one gets “lots of pennies”, at least as many as I needed, I fairly quickly realized the bank had what I needed. I ended up getting 3 boxes of pennies from two different banks. Each box had 2500 pennies in it. To sort through the pennies I
employed the entire family. We found lots of interesting coins. We even made it a game as each of us got excited when we found older wheat pennies from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The oldest penny we found was from 1917. We also found other interesting coins like half a dozen Canadian pennies and even one dime.
Once the pennies were sorted, specifically between shiny and dull, it was time to begin placing them on the base. I began by measuring from the edge and drawing a line as a guide. This was a very important step because if this first row was off the entire flag would be slanted. To adhere the pennies to the base I used liquid nails. I applied it to the back with a Q-tip and then placed them on the base. I did the first couple of rows and allowed them to dry before continuing. I didn’t want the pennies to shift throughout the project so I needed these to be set firmly in place before continuing. I
randomly placed the pennies face up and face down as well as in whatever rotation I picked them up in. This gave it a more natural appearance and ensured I didn’t go crazy if they were not all straight.
Now, even with lots of planning and work, mistakes are still made in most projects. Staying positive and not getting too frustrated are important attributes to have when doing DIY projects. Luckily the mistakes I made in this project were easy to fix. The biggest mistakes I made were starting with the wrong row of pennies and starting too close to the edge. In my mind I thought the shiny pennies would be the red stripes and the dark pennies would be the white stripes, however when you look at it from a distance that’s not how it appears to your brain. The shinny coins take on the appearance of white. To fix the mistake I had to take up the entire bottom row. Luckily my wife had allowed extra space for the border so we were able to accommodate the fix without having to remove everything and start over.
This concludes part one of this Memorial Day tribute. Part two will be coming later this weekend with photos of the finished flag. I hope you have enjoyed it thus far.