For school productions where a fireplace set is required, realistic flames need to be recreated without using actual fire. Real fire on stage can be very dangerous, especially since plenty of props and other stage materials are very combustible and can burn easily. Here are ways for you to create your own realistic flame effect without making heat or igniting a fire.
- Create the cradle. You will need to create a cradle that will house the flame set up. The cradle will hide the box in view once on stage. To create this, take a two long pieces of wood that are positioned parallel to each other. Position one large piece of wood on these two parallel wood pieces to create the outer post. Nail this into place. Add other wood stick pieces to two parallel lines until you create something that looks like a fence. The final piece of stick to be attached should be large and of the same size as the first post, to create a realistic fireplace cradle. Use metallic colored spray paints to give the cradle an iron look.
- Set up the fire box. Next, take a box and fit in two 12 volt cooling fan, which can be purchase in automobile shops. These are the types of fans that are placed on a car’s dashboard. The fans should be positioned so that they will blow out air upwards. Close the box and create two holes above the fans. Keep in mind that the bottom of the box should be opened and slightly elevated to allow air to be sucked in by the fans and blow outwards. Paint the box with black paint so that it will not be visible on stage.
- Add in lights. Next, take two smaller boxes that will fit over the hole. The bottom of the box should also be cut out to allow air to rush out of the box. Create two holes inside the box and place an orange halogen box. The other box should have a yellow halogen box to create the appearance of real fire once turned on. Attach a strip of wire mesh on top of the smaller boxes and use yellow, red, and orange cellophane strips to amplify the color of the lights. To power the halogen lamps in the light box, use flame flicker circuits that will power the halogen lamps in intervals, just like flicker fire.
- Add in flames. To add the visible flicker flames, take a thin and light fabric such as white silk. Cut these into shreds that look like flames. Cut these in different shapes and sizes, and then attach the ends to the wire mesh on the smaller boxes. When lit up, the fabric will color up like real flames. Combined with the fan, the fabric will flutter like a flame in a well lit fireplace.
Set the cradle boxes on stage and turn on the halogen lamps and the fans. The end product is a realistic looking flame with the warm glow of real fire. You can disassemble the parts after use and store these in boxes for the next school production, to save you from the hassle of creating a new set for each play.