How to Create a Project Using Fake Fire

Written by megan shoop
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How to Create a Project Using Fake Fire
Create a realistic fake fire with a few supplies. (Fire image by Luke Haverkamp from

Many plays and theatre productions use fake fires to enhance the stage setting without any dangerous or disastrous results. Other uses for fake flames include indoor picnics with your children, a spooky prop for a haunted house or light for the inside of a tent. It can even be used as a creative side lamp for a teen's room. The simplest fake flames are made from simply wrinkling some flame-coloured paper and placing it on top of stacked twigs. However, you can achieve a realistic, moving flame with a little more work. This project is also kid-friendly as long as he has adult help.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sticks and twigs
  • Battery-powered fan
  • Outdoor holiday lights
  • Large barrel
  • Spray paint
  • Hacksaw
  • Large piece of cardboard
  • Fabric
  • Wooden skewers
  • Heat resistant paint (optional)

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  1. 1

    Cut a large, circular barrel made of plastic, wood or metal with a saw to about 3 feet in diameter and no more than a foot deep. Spray paint it black or brown.

  2. 2

    Cut a large circle of cardboard about an inch wider than your barrel. Cut a circular hole in the centre of the cardboard piece about 18 inches in diameter. Glue several skewers across the opening, criss-crossing them at random.

  3. 3

    Draw some slender, curvy "flames" of different sizes on a piece of white fabric and cut them out. Silk, satin and georgette all flow nicely and work well for this. Rub a little glue along the edges of your pieces to keep them from fraying. Wrap one end of each piece around a skewer and glue it in place.

  4. 4

    Cut holes large enough for the holiday lights in your cardboard around the centre hole. Feed one light bulb through each hole. The holes should be small enough to hold the bulbs securely in place. Tape any extra lights to the bottom of the cardboard.

  5. 5

    Glue as many twigs and branches to the cardboard and the outside of the barrel as you can while avoiding covering the light bulbs. Glue the sticks in an arrangement that mimics a real camp fire.

  6. 6

    Place a battery-powered box fan about a foot square in the bottom of the barrel with the fan facing up. Turn the fan on to its medium setting Turn your holiday lights on and put the cardboard over the barrel opening. The breeze from the fan will blow the fabric as the lights shine and shift on it, looking almost like real flames.

Tips and warnings

  • Use orange, yellow and red outdoor holiday lights for your flames since outdoor lights have larger bulbs. If you can't find the proper colours, get clear lights and paint them with heat-resistant paint. Use battery-powered lighting fixtures.

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