The Ceramic Thing

"O for a muse of Fire, that would ascend
The brightest Heaven of Invention..."

--from the prolog of Henry V, by Will Shakespere

Update:  Sadly, the Ceramic Thing is broken... :(  It got a big chip out of it on top of our car driving to the playa for July 4th weekend.  I can't run it until it's fixed. :( :(  [I ordered high-temp ceramic adhesive July 16.  It should arrive soon.]

New update: The glue never arrived, and the Ceramic Thing broke into even more pieces while I was at Burning Man!  [It blew over and shattered.]  I'm not very hopeful that I can fix it.  Though, I have plans to make one similar from a ceramic planter.  I sure miss having a small firefall I could just toss into my car and take to friends' houses for parties. :( :(


Back board: 3'x3.5' [approx, not sure]
Bottom bowl: 15 gallon galvanized pail
Height: about 3.5' tall
Pump: 500 gph
Water requirements:  15 gallons
Power requirements: 110V
Fuel requirements: 1 gallon/3-4 hours
Space requitements: 2.5'x3' [approx, not sure]

I got this strange gem at a salvage lot on San Pablo Ave in Berkeley.  I have no idea what it was originall for, so I just call it "the ceramic thing."  I got it originally to use as a fountain for a pond I was building in 1997.  It still had some copper tubing attached in the back.  The lower jutting lip thing has a hole to the inner part, but the hole had been plugged.

I got the wood at the same salvage lot.  I like the whethered look of it and the oil stains and rust stains.  I intend to make the screws rust as well.

Here's some pictures of it running [(35k), (37k), (47k), (57k) resp.]:

Ceramic Thing -- side, flash Ceramic Thing -- side, no flash Ceramic Thing -- front Ceramic Thing -- front

I wish these pictures captured at least some of the subtle blue flames which envelop the water.  Also, in the bottom pool, the leftover fuel burns mostly blue, and little jets of flames burst off occationally to each side as the leftover droplets which aren't in contact with the flames spread across the surface and finally ignite.  Just lovely.

The powdery white residue on the wood is from droppers of alcohol mixed with boric acid, which burn a lovely green.  (I can't use alcohol in the fountain proper as it mixes with water and doesn't float, and I can't use boric in the fuel because it doesn't dissolve in the fuel... Too bad.)  Droppering the alcohol directly into the water causes the fire to go out for some reason.  Not sure if it emulsified the fuel or if it simply burns quicker and thus burns up the air.

The black is soot.  I cleaned it off and sprayed it with silicone lubricant (which can take the heat) so the water flows out better.  The soot seems to stick less too.

Ceramic Thing -- day, front Ceramic Thing -- closeup
These are during the day with it off. [(74k), (41k) resp.]

Plans for the future:

The water gets a bit hot while running.  I'd like to add a radiator on the back of the board to help cool it.

I also have a problem leaving it alone, since it can't relight -- I have to babysit it at parties.
So I'd  like to build something to auto-light it, or a pilot light or something.

I'd also like build a better base so it'll fold up for transporting.

Where it's been
I've taken the Ceramic Thing to a number of parties!

Please send me some email.