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Not quite finished, but it's coming along well. Originally I had planned to build a fire prop based around a mist maker, only to discover that a single-head mister doesn't put out nearly enough volume for that sort of thing. Nor do 3 of them, at least the 3 that I own. So, I moved on to the fog machine, but that put out such volume (especially with the flaming cauldron fan) that it was too much. No, in case you're wondering, chilled fog does not help here. I think I've sorted this out now for a fairly simple, reliable prop that is easy to make without electrical/wiring experience. Parts and details under the pics, neither of which look as good as this does in person.

20171025_212712.jpg 20171025_212829.jpg


Parts:
  • base "coals" - made from a cardboard base, 2 sets orange string lights from Dollar Tree (short ones, 20 lights each???), and black "pond" type expanding spray foam
  • large plastic food storage container - square and tall, with lid (I bought these, and used the largest one)
  • flaming cauldron - mine is old, new ones may not be wired exactly the same
  • aluminum flashing and something to cut it with (and gloves!)
  • PVC pipe to connect to the fog machine - I'm using about 4.5 feet of 1" sch 40
  • 400W small size inexpensive fog machine - you want one that doesn't put out a lot of volume, this isn't the time to pull out the $$$$
  • fog timer
  • lots of sticks and wood bits
  • black spray paint, hot glue, utility knife, drill with hole saw
First, make yourself a glowing coals base prop. Preferably several years in advance if you want to be like me ;P Instructions here if you need them. Once that's done, dig out a hole in the foam (or just leave a space) for your plastic container to sit solid and level into the base.

Next, cut a hole into the lid of your plastic container, just big enough to set the vented bottom bowl of the cauldron into. Mine's about 5.5", judge based on the holes (these are where the fog comes out so make sure they're clear). This one you can do with a utility knife. Spray paint your lid black, be patient and let it dry (as I say not as I did, acetone will get spraypaint off your fingers just in case). Ditch the cauldron's hanging chains and remove the fabric (mine was velcro-ed on). Unscrew the cauldron bowl from the top that holds the lights and fan (there should be 2 small screws on the top), then hot glue it into the lid from the bottom. Flip bowl upside down, set lid on top, glue, easy.

One more hole, this time in one side of the container body. Just big enough to slip your pvc pipe into. Use a hole saw and a drill for this part. Or something that will easily make a hole big enough, which is not that utility knife. A little larger than the pvc is ok, don't go too big. You don't want fog leaking out. If it does get too big, more hot glue??

(This would be a good time to spray paint your container, but I'd wait until you know this is going to work. It's good to be able to see how much fog is in there as you adjust the fog machine timer).

Back to the cauldron. Flip that business end upside down, so you're looking at the wiring for the fan and lights. On mine, it was a simple matter of unplugging the fan (two small wires, black and red, come from the fan into the board). I can't vouch for a newer or different model flaming cauldron, but there's just not that much to these things. Unplug your fan.
(I tried to slow the fan down, but it was never enough. The fog drifts nicely on its own. Do this the easy way, just unplug it.)
Test and make sure you got the right part. If all is good, go ahead and put the cauldron back together.

Now for that flashing. You need a strip about 3.5-4" wide, and long enough to circle around the inside of the cauldron bowl with a little overlap. Mine has a little gap it fits into between the bowl wall and the top surface, yours may not? IDK. It should have a rim, at least. Fold over the top ~1" of flashing strip (wear gloves, I just bent it with my hands on the floor but use a tool if you've got it). Clip into that folded over edge, roughly every 1.5-2" (like clipping an inside curve in sewing, without this it won't bend). Keep those gloves on and bend this whole thing into a nice round shape that will fit into the outside rim of your flaming cauldron. Fit that in. Hot glue or tape it into shape if you need to. This ring serves three purposes - it blocks the view of the lights, reflects the light, and helps concentrate the fog into a narrow upward column. The power cord from my cauldron comes out the top, and I just let it hang over the flashing. If yours is otherwise, adapt - make a hole as needed.

Assemble everything so far. Base, container, lid with cauldron, flashing rim. Insert the pvc pipe into your container and align the other end with the fog machine nozzle leaving about a 1 inch gap. (I used a broken brick, work with what you've got to get the height correct.) Warm up the fog, test the alignment.

While that's heating, turn on the lights, gather up your sticks and liberally cover the top opening. The sticks help to obscure the lights, and they also direct the fog into narrow streams which helps sell the fire effect (rather than just looking like fog). Lots of sticks. Pile them on. I don't have enough.

Ok, fog machine on and lined up with your pipe. Timer settings I use for my setup: 5 second duration, roughly 90 second interval in between bursts. Go ahead and play with the button, you know you want to. It will smoke up when the machine runs, hence the as-short-as-possible duration. But fog will linger in the pipe and container and slowly drift up and out. You will almost certainly have to play with the settings to get this to work the way you want it to.


At some point that isn't 11 o'clock at night, come back and spray paint your plastic container base, and maybe that aluminum flashing (outside only). Pile up some bigger sticks around said container so it doesn't look like some goofy experiment, and maybe break off the long ones you used on top for test purposes.

I think that about covers it.
 
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