May 5, 2000: quick note
The firefall did a wedding last weekend. I'll have to tell you more about it. One thing, though, is my barrel of naphtha is empty now. I've used 55 gallons of fuel! Scott and I are getting pretty tired of it by now, and both of us want to take a big break... I've even avoided anime since i've been so exhausted -- and too bad, since we're watching Fushigi Yuugi, an excellent TV show which you should see someday, even if it is a bit soap-operay. :)
May 3, 2000: more info
Scott and I took the firefall to a wedding recently. I'll have to talk about the wedding later.
But basically, we're both getting pretty tired of it. Scott especially. I wish it could just be my cross to bear, but I realy need his help to spot.
We ran out of naphtha filling up for the wedding. This means that we've used up a 55 gallon barrel! I'm beside myself.
We've been talking about getting a real metal bottom bowl for it. The one we found is 2' instead of 2.5' and we're thinking of going to 7' diameter. Once you're at 6', though, adding a single inch means gallons of water...
3^2 x 3.14 x 2.5 = 9 x 7.85 = 70.65 x 8gal/ft^2 = 565.2 gal 3.5^2 x 3.14 x 2 = 12.25 x 6.28 = 76.93 x 8gal/ft^2 = 615.4 gal
But really we need only to be able to cover the intake and we also need thermal mass so the thing doesn't heat up too much. And the second should take care of the first...
But it's probably another $250, plus about that for more fuel... Just trying to figure if I want to put that much money into it when I'm not making anything at it right now...
Well, I'll need both of these for Burning Man, so I suppose I should get it overwith.
We added a clip to the top bowl to part open the water to allow fuel fumes to escape the inner bubble. [This is what singed me a few weeks ago.] And we added a small fan to the fuel tunnel to help force the fumes out. These together seem to really help. We need to see just how bad it is, but on the whole, I think we're pretty good.
We really need a night to ourselves to do some serious testing. I want to do some fabric tests, and I'd also like to just see how bad the inner bubble flame ball is now with the new changes.
And we both want to take some pictures too.
When we did a "photo-shoot" a few weeks ago, there was a guy there who could scoop the flames off the top bowl really easily. I asked him how he did it -- I didn't think it was possible -- and he said, "just scoop them up!" and he reached in and scooped them up. I kinda stared in disbelief. I realized that I'd never gotten to play in it myself. Only here and there as others got to play. :( Really bummed me out.
Scott was really bummed that night too, watching everyone take pictures but him. We really can't leave it alone without watching, not even to take pictures.
Well, hopefully, after some tests, we can determine that it's safer than we previously thought. Certainly when it's "tame" we can relax a whole lot more...
Larry Harvey came up to me, wanting me to build one for him for Burning Man this year. Larry Harvey is the man behind the Man, so to speak. He started all this stuff, so he's kind of a worshiped figure in a sense... So it should be very flattering. But I kinda balked at the idea. There's not much time before the Event this year, and I just don't see how I could get it together in time. And I have my own projects I want to do this year. I need to talk to him more, though, and see exactly what he wants.
I was also contacted by a company building "Action Homes" -- not really sure what that means. But they have a client who wants a firefall-like thing in his house and they asked for my help. I wrote them back, but haven't heard back. I might call them today. Pretty cool, though! I hope it works out!
Firefall doesn't run at Burning Man 2001
Figured I'd mention that I just finally cleaned up [somewhat] Scott's webpage for his project Thought.
Go and check it out! It's a very cool project. [Of course, pictures really don't do it any justice...]
Also, a quick update that the Caudron never got to run at Burning Man this year. :( Every night we were free, the breeze was just too much for it and kicked water out of the bowl. Plus picking up my mom from the airport, plus the Bachelor/ette parties, plus the wedding. Just too much going on, and when there wasn't, the wind shut us down...
By sunday, I was so frustrated that I was planning to first see if getting enough people to gather around it would block the wind enough to light it. And if that didn't work, I was determined to move the RV and block the wind that way!! It was Sunday after all...
But Fate seemed not to want the firefall to run, because my brother took a fall on a skateboard behind a scooter, and ended up having to be air-lifted to Reno. [THAT was quite an adventure! But I'm not going to talk about it, but for these short notes: wreck in Empire, gate and road closed, back way only locals know, flat tire, and a 1 hour trip turned into about 5... But we got there, and he was and is fine.]
All in all, however, a perfect Burning Man! We really couldn't've asked for a better year!
And, holy cow, those twisters peeling off the Man when he Burned?!?!?! Wow! As I said to Scott, "this is our Wedding Burn! They're doing all this for us!!" :)
Here's the link for pictures again: http://purplefeather.com/~wedding
Ah, and the CatBus...
Allen wanted the firefall at his show the day before the Burning Man Decompression -- a long weekend for us!
He came to pick it up the night before, and helped us set it up the day of the show.
He set up the dome around it to protect it from wind, but it wasn't needed in the Urban environment -- the wind is blocked by so many trees and buildings.
The firefall ran very well! Hardly anyone came into the dome and touched the flames, though, which was too bad. But since the SFFD were squeemish about people playing in the flames, Allen felt it was best people didn't play anyway. Oh well.
Had the worst night ever with the firefall last monday... First, I tried the diverter, which [as expected]disrupted the aluminum, but when we went to put it back, the strip was longer and no longer fit... Then, the piping came loose, which meant working underwater, in the cold and nasty water. Then the filter cloth on the top burst and sent a 2" wide stream of water and doused the [only a few] folks who came to watch me play. :( I've been quite depressed since then. :(
The firefall has aged. It's almost 6 months old now, and needing some parts replaced. Namely the bottom bowl, which won't be cheap... I really need to find a metal bowl for the bottom...
Austin Richards called me last night, just to chat and keep up. Great guy. He does Dr Megavolt. We chatted for over an hour and a half. He gave me some leads on fire-proof suits, and also the name of his agent, in case I ever might want to do some shows across the country with the firefall! I real kind thing of him to share!
I do hope to get together enough of a show in the next year to think about taking it across the country. Did I tell you about my cool new ideas?
Take a bucket, get the water to spin, add fuel.Glass-bottom firefall:
This should make a small tornado of flames up the middle.
Make a tree of about six of these, one at the top.
build a firefall and rig a mirror under it at 45 degreesFlame lilypads:
watch the flames through the water!
capture and control the "blue lilypads"
make a firefall just of this effect
I also want to see if I can capture the blue flame ball effect too
Also some other ideas:
lay tiles or bricks and distribute fuel underneight.Flame sandwalk: do the same but use sand.
the flames should waft and shoot along the cracks.
invert a large tank, like an oxygen tank
fill with propane and air
ignite, and the flame front strikes the bell.
Just some ideas.
Saw an article in Playboy about a guy who took a pyro show across the US. Did I tell you about it? I was just a bit snobbish about it, feeling that the firefall deserved more attention... :)
Today, I did some maintenance on the firefall.
First of all, I decided not to change the water. The firefall uses so much water, I've been feeling bad about dumping it so often. I'll see if I can get the water to warm up using the diverter... I may have problems. The water has become a bit rusty-looking. I really need to figure out what I'm going to do about the pedistal! I kinda want to use plastic like before, and cover it with aluminum flashing, like the bottom bowl. It might be too difficult, though.
Second, I changed the oil in the pump. Kind of a hassle, since I had to remove it from the pump cage. I might find another way to do this. [I should've ran the pump a little to warm up the oil so it would come out easier. Ah well.]
When I changed the filter cloth, I decided to try it without the rubber ring. This means the fabric is up against six screws in the side and might get cut. We shall see if it works or gets sliced up.
I wanted to add something to smooth out the water on the diverter, but the water was too friggin COLD!!! It will have to wait. I also took a look at my new tool-box. It leaks. I'm pretty disappointed in this. I found where it leaks -- in the hinges of the top compartments. Just plain poor designing. I'm trying to repair them, but nothing really can stick to polyethaline... I may have to "weld" it with a hot poker...
[Pictures and movies] I realized I left my hose at The Crucible, but it had already disappeared by this time, so I had to buy new hoses. At the same time, I got this big flat aluminum pan used to catch drippings from a car. It should make a nice bed for the fire-walkway I have planned!
I got home late, plus Scott had to work late, so was a bit late on setting up. Dan Lyke showed up with his sweety, Charlene, and a teenage friend of hers, Michael in tow. Dan -- as typical -- helped immensely in setting up! He's a gem of a guy. We got it lit around 8:30 or so. Another of his friends, Jeanne and her son Zach showed up a little later. And Steph and PJ showed up too. In all, it was a good gathering!
I broke my one-at-a-time rule and made three changes tonight: new diverter, new fuel ring and new filter holder-downer thing. I also have a new digital camera I wanted to try out! [I forgot to get the piezo-electric sparker installed. :( Oh well.]
The diverter worked well, but too well. It caused the water to roil too much and disturbed the aluminum too much... So, unfortunately, I had to turn it off.
Dan attached the new fuel ring. Too bad I got the wrong fitting, so he had to take the hose off and put it on the other one still attached. :-\ Well, I was guessing when I got the parts. Drat! The new ring worked out really well! The fuel spread far more evenly over the surface. In fact, it may have even been a little more fuel opposite the fuel in.
The new filter thing also worked well. It's narrower, so there's more room for the fuel plug. At first, the filter cloth came off, so I unscrewed the fitting, attached the filter cloth, then simply screwed the fitting back on. I think this method is easiest. I need to perfect it better. I also need to make a velcro or some other method of attaching the filter cloth. Zip ties are not appropriate. They have to be thrown away each time, and it'd be much easier to have something I could reuse.
Tonight, like The Crucible show, was the night of flame-devils -- flame tornadoes! Dan surmised it might have to do with the moist air. Hmm. I got some good footage of this! The Crucible produced a 10 foot one once, and many long ones, so maybe this is it. [Tonight was foggy, not rainy, so if that's right, that would means smaller ones.]
I took a bunch of pictures and played with the shutter speeds. I got one picture with the flames washed out and the people barely visible, so it looks like there's no happy medium... [Scott is going to help me with filters, so maybe this will help.]
I got some great footage of Michael. He was working to get a big bunch of flames in his hands to hold -- which typically can get quite hot at the edges -- and he eventually succeeds, but he jumps a bit when it gets unexpectedly hot! [It's a lot easier holding your fingers apart and letting the water fall through. The fuel doesn't pool up on your hands that way.]
I was trying to get some movie footage of Zach, but he kept moving away. I wanted to catch him unaware, so I didn't want to tell him I was trying to film him! Drat! I would love to put up a movie of some of the playfulness he has with the fire, scooping it at the top, sticking his fingers in the sheet of water, and generally doing fun crazy things. I did get one movie with him playing.
Unfortunately, the flames are way washed out and far too bright. In the movies it looks like the whole things is a raging fire, but really the flames are not this bright. It also seems like the flames are too fast. Strange.
Right at the end, the water from the top went into a weird oscilation and made this shup-shup-shup-shup noise. Scott and I got this effect the first time we ran the top bowl with the pump. This seemed to put out the inner bubble flames. I tried in vain to get a blue flame ball... By that time, it was a little after 10pm, so we had to shut down. I took some pictures and some movies of the blue lilypads that you get when shutting down.
In all, everything went very well!
Finally cut and glued the diverter together! I also cleaned out the bottom bowl.
I've also planned a gathering on monday, Feb 7th, to do some experiments. Here's the list:
New diverter -- to reduce and control water flow on the top bowl New fuel ring -- to spread the fuel more evenly across the top New piezo-electric [sp?] sparker -- to ignite the blue fireball New ideas: create/control the blue fireball, flame tornadoes, and "blue lilypads" I want to make firefalls with these! Possibly do some tests with the next firefall I'm building "The Urn" Safety tests: see if alcohol or soap stops all the flames for emergenciesI'm sick again -- maybe from working in the rain all night a week and a half ago! -- so I didn't do much more than this.
Saw a salamander today while working on the diverter! Ceratinly a good omen! [Salamanders are my totem animal. :) ]
My good friend Andrew says this:
"Salamander", with an 'e'. Looked it up, of course. Funny, because it comes from the Latin (and earlier Greek) 'salamandra', name of a lizardly monster that was immune to fire. So the 'a' ought to be right, but ain't.Ha!! "...lizardly monster that was immune to fire..." Sounds about right for me! :)
[I will write more here about this year's Imbolc, and about Brigid last year and the firefall....]
I bought some parts to make the diverter. I took them out to lay them together and make sure everything would work. It was a good thing I did! It was clear that a 90 degree T would divert the water too much to the edge -- into the aluminum -- and might cause the water to roil too much. So I decided to get a 45 degree T instead. I also noted that the edge-side of this contraption would have to be shortest so the barrel-side coiuld fit through the hole!
Here's a sketch of the diverter:
Scott took the muffler off so we could get a new one -- and hopefully more silent.
We went to the hardware store and got the parts, but didn't have time to put it together.
December 23, 1999: Email from Michael Sturtz
Got an email reply from Michael Sturtz of The Crucible art school in Berkeley -- where I took the Ceramic Thing earlier this year. Yes, he's interestd in having the Cauldron at the Feast, and I should come scope it out soon.
The Feast is a benefit for the school and will happen on Jan. 22 For more info, check out The Crucible's website.
Tuesday, January 18, 2000: Preparing for the Fire Feast 2000 at The Crucible
Gunther helped me take the firefall from Dr. Megavolt's show site to The Crucible instead of taking it home. We unloaded and I talked some to Michael Sturtz about where I would be placed. He had envisioned it by the front door, so the folks waiting in line would get to see it. This would be a very prominant place for it, and it would mean everyone would get to see it. However, for various reasons, I wasn't happy with this site.
The first, lesser reasons were that I wouldn't get to see anything of the show. Even with the Ceramic Thing at the Fire Arts Festival last year, I was placed in the back yard and got to see only a few pieces of art. This would mean I would see nothing at all of the show... [And Scott too, since he would have to stay with it all night too -- and he wanted to photograph the fire performers.] I could live with this, though.
Second, is those who stayed to play in the fire would also not see anything. The firefall is not something you look at then move on. Folks seem to come and stay -- esp. on a cold night. It draws people in. But it probably wouldn't keep them from entering the show eventually, so this also wasn't a big issue.
But the most important reason was space. It was 9 feet from building to curb right next to the door. So even if it was flush up against the building [fire code violation?] that would be 3 feet from the curb, and folks could trip! Not to mention the blue fireball we have to keep an eye on.
Mostly, he just hadn't seen the thing. The Cauldron is a LOT larger than pictures on this page do it justice. It's not just that the bottom is 6' across, but that you really need 5' around it minimum. And not just so folks can play, but so we, as spotters, can move quickly around it to respond to any emergency. Michael had seen only the top bowl [I had picked it up and still had it strapped to the top of my car the night of the Fire Arts Festival] and pictures on this site. He's certainly very safety conscious and sharp dude! He just hadn't seen it, and eventually we agreed to move it to the back.
It was really my fault not coming out earlier to pick a site. And I learned the lesson that I must see the placement site before agreeing to a show! [Yeah, duh. We learn our lessons.]
In any case, I had been placed and was happy finally!
Saturday, January 22, 2000: Fire Feast 2000 at The Crucible
Scott had to work late [on a saturday too! :..( ] so we didn't get there until around 5pm. We had a couple minor problems -- the fault of not having had time to do a dry-run the day before. First, I had lost one of the washers for the hoses. These are big 3" washers, and the attachments that they came with had been special-ordered. Without the washer, we couldn't seal the hoses, and without them connected, we couldn't start filling it up... Luckily, there was an Orchard Supply Hardware across the street! This was a life-saver for us! The one he got he had to cut down a bit, but he got it working.
Next, the pump at first sounded weird, then wouldn't start altogether... This was because I had been abusing that poor pump by putting a cover over it, and it had been breathing it's own exhaust! It needed a new air filter and a clean sparkplug. I got an extra air filter so now I have a backup, which I'd needed anyway.
Third, the water [and cold, rainy night air] was too cold to light the top. I couldn't get any flames to stay on top. As expected, with the fuel building up under the bubble -- and we kept folks back and kept an eye out ourselves -- we got one blue flameball like we got at Burning Man and at Ben's party, but most folks were inside anyway, and after that the water warmed up enough and we got it lit.
At this point, I have to give a very deep and hearty thanx to Ed and Jennifer, who helped us set up!
After that, pretty much everything ran smoothly!
The first part of the show -- the dinner -- was an interesting mix of folks. A high percentage of what we later called "patrons" -- the 50-something crowd, well-dressed and prim. Even so, most folks really enjoyed playing with the fire! But we had to warn some folks not to get their furs [!?] too close! :) We ran from a little after 7 until about 8:30 or 9, I think. We had to refuel, since there was a lighting of some other artwork at 9:30, so we didn't really get a break. [Ed went and brought us something to eat, at this point! We hadn't even had time to get dinner for ourselves!]
Once the doors opened in earnest, the crowd changed significantly. We had a some trouble with folks a little too intoxicated for our tastes. One woman in particular would get her whole sleeve in the water and flames and wouldn't heed Scott's requests to roll up her sleeve. The water quickly soaked into the fabric, so her sleeve didn't even get singed, but we were still concerned. We eventually had to send her away, to her complaints. Oh well. We take the risk of looking unfair and unkind, for the safety of everyone...
We have made the mental note to ourselves that at parties, we run only at the beginning of the party, not the end, when folks are more likely to be intoxicated.
But that was the only real problem we had.
I had a lot of folks asking if I had made lots of firefalls, and saying I could make a lot of money selling these! :) I just kinda laugh, since there's a lot of legality and liability issues that I need to research before I were to try to market the firefall. One guy asked if I would ever sell The Cauldron. Well, I might, but I think I would probably talk the buyer out of it. The Cauldron takes a lot of maintenance, and a lot of watching. I think it works better as something to rent out, since I can make sure folks are safe, and everything is running smoothly. But heck, for the right price, I might just sell this white elephant! :) :)
One woman played and played in it all night. I captured some pictures of her and can't wait to put them up! [The rain prevented me from using my new digital camera... :( ] She is the type I live for -- like Daniel and the silver-wigged girl from Burning Man! Rarely, there will be someone utterly sucked in, and they make a connection even deeper, I think, than those around laughing and playing. Maybe I like that type of person cuz they're like me. :)
Another woman, a local blacksmith, and I talked for a good long while too. I gave her my card, but she doesn't use the computer much, so I'll probably not contact her again... :(
Another woman was interested in having it at her wedding. She said the place where the reception would be won't allow fire performers. I undersold myself in my price [the same I gave Earth Circus], but the more I think about it, the more I think it's more dangerous than the fire performers. It's easier for me to do shows for friends and under more controlled circumstances, since there's far less liability issues. I just don't know what I'd do if something happened I didn't expect and someone got hurt! I need to research insurance, and getting sponsorships perhaps. And, of course, improving the safety for all!
[Note on that topic, I'm thinking of rigging up a ring of piping to my big fire extinguisher so at one trigger, I could fire CO2 all the way around the firefall. I need to do more safety tests, and improment tests... I've been avoiding making changes while at a show, since I don't want to "break" it last minute or have something I don't expect happen. Can't wait to have it back home to work on it!]
[Another note: I feel I walk a very fine line between safety and not worrying folks excessively. The Cauldron is dangerous. It's real fire after all. On the other hand, folks -- esp. non-pyro folks -- tend to be overly paranoid of fire, and this can actually be dangerous too! I have to be instistant and honest, without worrying people to the point of irrationality. For the most part, the Cauldron is safe and won't hurt you. On the other hand, some things are actually dangerous about it. I need control of those dangerous aspects so that the rest can be easy.]
The best compliment was when someone said, "this is the best sculpture I've seen all my life!" Wow!
We ran out of fuel again around 10:30, so we shut down for a while. We went ahead and put in the last amount of fuel in the tank and went inside for a break. Scott noted that there was still a half-can of fuel in the metal tank -- that the hose got twisted when he screwed on the top and ended up too near the surface. So we decided to take a break and run the rest of the fuel, since the night was still young and the doors had only just been opened. So we took our break and wandered around inside some, but after some discussion about intoxicated people, and that they'd be getting even more intoxicated as the night went on, we decided to "get it overwith" and run the last of the fuel out and be done for the evening. So we went back out. About this time, Dave showed up to help spot. He stayed with the extinguisher, but I think the best place for spotting is near the "action" asking folks to roll up their sleeves, watch for long hair and fluffy clothes, and answer questions.
Once we were done, we went in for a little bit, decided we couldn't see anything anyway [folks were shoulder-to-shoulder] and just sat down, exhausted. We were so pooped that we decided finally to just leave.
Scott suggested that the reason we were so very tired was that we have to be so very alert at all times. You don't really get a break. This is a big argument for paying spotters well. It's not a "do nothing" job. We certainly turned down the beers offered to us...
In all, it was a good night, but a very exhausting night. We learned a lot about how to handle problems in the future, and what problems we might have to watch for. We're getting better at this! :)
I have mixed feelings about the coming Fire Festival in July. Mostly because I really want to go to it!! If I do the show, I want to scale back the time I run. Maybe for one hour, so I can see some of the show! As I say it, "I have to work all night, for no pay, on a night when there's a show I really want to go to!" :) I love the Crucible and support what they do, and certainly enjoy the reactions folks give me. I just love what they do so very much I want to see it all too! :)
Tuesday Jananuary 24, 2000: Tear-down at The Crucible
Was so exhausted that I stayed in bed all day sunday. Monday, I was also a bit frazzled, so didn't go by the Crucible until tuesday. I think Michael wasn't too happy about this. I also mentioned that I had no truck and couldn't pick up the major pieces until later. He was less happy about this too...
I was by myself and so had to get creative about how I did things. The street drain was further away than my hose would reach, and it was uphill... So I borrowed a couple pieces of metal and pallets and created a pathway for the water to go down closer to the drain. In all, I didn't flood the area! I need to get a longer hose, though. This is clear... In all, though, I got broken down fairly quickly.
I couldn't move the pump by myself and I went in to see if someone could help me, but Michael was the only one not dressed nicely. To go inside meant I had to lock my car back and lock the gate each time.
Meanwhile, I had a talk with someone who "ran the grill for staff, volunteers and performers." This took me aback, since we were told that we would have had to pay for food for me and Scott... I was a bit insulted by this. We worked all night long in the rain -- performed in a sense -- and weren't offered food set aside for performers...
When Michael came out, he helped me get it to the gate, but then dashed off again before I could unlock the gate and car...so I had to wait again for him to come back out and help me get it into my car...
Thursday, January 27, 2000: Final load from The Crucible
My good friend Bill Carson was able to help me get the firefall in his truck. There wasn't much to load, so it went quickly.
After we locked up, we walked through the studio -- which is really amazing, clean, neat and well-organized. I wanted to introduce him to Michael, but he seemed really busy, and hardly gave me a glance. One of the volunteers knew Bill, though, and really liked the firefall! So I felt a little better.
In all, I was a bit put-off by this show. I felt like I was just in the way and causing problems. And in the end, I didn't really feel I had been "paid." I don't mind working for free for friends, but this was just too much work not even to get food. Especially since this was a show I would've rather just paid my ticket and enjoyed as a patron myself. I respect the Crucible, and wish I had more time to volunteer there! But I don't think I'll bring the firefall to the Fire Arts Festival this summer -- I'd much rather go to the show! :)
I've been missing having the Ceramic Thing, a small firefall, that I can just toss in the back of my car and take to parties... I've been thinking a lot about what the next one is to be. I decided I wanted an urn pouring a small stream over into a tub like the Ceramic Thing, but I hope that the flames inside the urn will be slow and sensual.
Today, I bought an urn to be used as the top of the next firefall I want to build! So I'm now on my way!