Christmas is officially over and the New Year festivities have calmed down. That can only mean one thing around here at Intrigued – yep stress time as we only have about 9 months to get prepped for this year’s Haunted Halloween Trail. Already looking tight and worried we will once again be scrambling to get all the new decorations built and the haunt layout planned in time. To help get me in the mood figured it was finally time to get a post out on a decoration I built for the 2018 trail.
I already walked you through the witch construction (link here) – those made their appearance back on the 2017 trail. The initial scene just had a cauldron sitting on the ground in the middle of the circle. Had an idea to kick it up a bit for the 2018 version. A cauldron isn’t going to get too hot if it is just sitting on the ground… what to do … what to do… oh yeah, let’s add some fire (append your own Tim the Tool Man grunts). Getting the cauldron off the ground was pretty easy – thankfully because I left that design to the very end. Ron and I were busy finishing up the final decoration prep the night before the main event. After a quick build of the Nightwing stand – if I remember correctly that was around midnight (link here) – looked down at the to-do list and remembered the cauldron stand. Happened to look over and noticed a bunch of 3/8″ grey PVC conduit laying against the garage wall. Problem solved. Grabbed three pieces and some twine and went about connecting them at one end. Finished if off with three more lines to hold the cauldron. Patted myself on the back when I remembered I had adjustable eyehook connectors laying around from a previous build. Hooked those on the end of the support strings and then connected to the cauldron in the three newly drilled holes. In case it didn’t click, the adjustable hooks allowed me to get the cauldron leveled without playing games trying to get the strings tied evenly.
Hit the jump to see how the fire prop was constructed.
The fire element had already been created thanks to some spare time the week before. Saw a post on the Internet where someone had used a string of lights on a ground covered by some spray foam to simulate more of a flatter fire. Having seen that, an idea immediately clicked when I saw an extra red rope light left out from the previous year’s Christmas decorations. Truthfully, I had meant to throw them out as the plastic coating had become oily and sticky thanks to the petroleum base apparently breaking down from the summer heat while in storage. Put some latex gloves on, scooped up the rope light and headed to the basement lab. I wasn’t sure how well the spray foam would hold structurally – grabbed three dowel rods and mimicked the cauldron holder above although used wire to hold them instead of the twine. The rope light was then wrapped around the tee-pee starting at the bottom and raising up about an inch on each revolution. At random locations along the wrap I used the same wire to fix it to the crossed dowel rod (Note, start with the plug end so that stays at the bottom).
The result of that effort was a hollow red bee hive. Grabbed some 1/4″ PVC flat board that was laying around and placed it under the hive. Traced around the bottom about an inch out from the lowest rope light and then cut it out with a utility knife. Okay, hard part done, now the fun begins. Grabbed an extra large can of Great Stuff and proceeded to slowly go around the structure covering up the rope lights and structures the best I could being aware to leave gaps to allow for expansion. Let it set for a day and presto, a hollow cone of foam. Time for the big test.
Holy crap it worked! … and by worked I mean way beyond my expectations as it looked exactly like fire. I did have to thin the foam in a few places by grabbing and tearing chunks off where it was too thick to get a good glow. Leave some thick spots as that makes it look like clumps of ash. Simply plugged it in and pushed it under the cauldron – looked absolutely awesome in the dark. Problem is I didn’t take into account all the situations during the design. Yes, it looked fantastic out in the darkness of the trail….
… but there was something I didn’t think about until I looked at the pictures. The flash revealed the secret as you can see in the shot above. So, for this year, I remedied this and added a light coating of black, grey and red spray paint so it looked as good in light as it does in the darkness. You can see the improved product in the first shot of the post. Caution, go light with the paint – too much and it will cut down on the glow too much. If this happens .. and it will .. simply tear off some of the foam and hit the fresh foam with a lighter coat.
Definitely a nice addition to the scene. Next year I will make a point to finally put my water fogger in the cauldron along with some green lights to give it that evil soup look. Maybe throw in some skeletons to give it that extra spooky kick. Time is running short boys and girls, time to get back to work on the new props. Hope you enjoyed this quick, yet very effective fire prop.