It’s Fall and that means it’s time for all things Halloween! Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love coming up with new props and projects each year. This post “DIY Smoking Cauldron with Glowing Coals” is part one of a four part Halloween-themed series. The next three posts will include DIY Costumes, Extreme Pumpkin Decorating, and Halloween Party Buffet and Decoration Ideas.
How to Make a Smoking Cauldron with Glowing Coals
- Plywood square (whatever size you want to use for your base, we used 2′ x 2′)
- Four empty plastic bottles
- Orange LED string lights
- Clear packing tape
- Great Stuff (spray foam insulation)
- Black spray paint
- Large plastic cauldron
- Glass bowl
- Base for glass bowl inside cauldron (we used a large, sturdy plastic tub)
- 4 Misters with LED lights
- Extension cords/power strip
Step One: Prepare plastic bottles and string lights
- Remove labels.
- Cut off tops.
- Cut out notch along cut edge of bottom parts of bottle for string lights.
- Cut off top of bottles to create approximately 2″ opening.
- Tape together four groups of lights with enough space in between each group to reach from bottle base to bottle base.
Step Two: Secure lights and bottle structure
The plastic bottles will provide structure and a base for the cauldron.
- Insert one light group in each of the bottle bases and tape to the center of the plywood, bottle bottom up.
- Use the notches for the string lights to connect to the next bottle.
- Tape the four bottle tops (large side down) to the plywood toward the corners (but not too close).
- Spread out the rest of the lights around the plywood, using the bottle tops as structure for small groupings.
- Make sure you end with the plug end a number of inches longer than the plywood.
Step Three: Cover with Great Stuff (spray foam insulation)
- Spray Great Stuff (according to bottle instructions) around and between the four bottle bases and over the rest of the lights and the plywood.
- Don’t over spray, use just enough to cover the lights. You want it to be thin enough for the light to shine through.
- Let dry completely and do not touch until completely dry.
NOTE: This expands FAST! Start with just a little until you are comfortable with how it works and how much it will expand.
Step Four: Preparing the base for the cauldron
- Spray the exposed plywood with black spray paint.
- Do not cover the “coals” with a thick layer of paint or the lights won’t shine through.
- Attach Velcro to the top of the base and the bottom of the cauldron to keep it in place.
- Place cauldron on top of “coals” base.
Step Five: Preparing the misters
- Place the plastic tub upside down inside the cauldron.
- Place the glass bowl on top of the plastic tub.
- Put the four misters inside the glass bowl with the cords coming out over the edge of the cauldron.
- Fill glass bowl with water to cover the misters (according to mister package instructions), for my misters I covered with three inches of water.
NOTE: Do not turn on the misters without the water.
Step Six: Prepare the lighting and power supply
- Set up the spotlight to enhance the effect of the prop.
- Keep it out of site from normal viewing.
- Make sure it highlights the prop and doesn’t shine in the eyes of any onlookers.
- Don’t make it too bright that it distracts from the mist lights or the “coals”.
- Make sure you are using the appropriate power cords for the prop.
- Use only outdoor safe extension cords (or bring it all inside if it rains).
- Do not overload the outlets.
- Keep power in mind during set up, if you can use a power strip or multi cord that has an on/off switch it will be much easier than plugging in 6 cords each time.
Step Seven: Create a Scene
Now that you have an amazing smoking cauldron with glowing coals, what are you going to do with it?
We used it in the middle of a Spirit Circle in the yard (instructions below), but you can add a witch (perhaps the Sanderson Sisters), re-create the Hogwarts Potions Classroom or add any other creepy props you can think of! Just remember that you are using misters that will make the nearby area wet, so keep that in mind when picking your location.
- Five dowels (painted black so the bases don’t show at night)
- Plastic drop cloths
- Dried leaves (a great use for your leaves after all the raking!)
- Zip ties
- Cut plastic drop cloths into large squares (we did approximately 4′ x 4′).
- Place four squares on the ground (do not line up evenly) and pile leaves in the center.
- Pull the plastic up around the leaves to make the “head”.
- Use the zip tie around the neck (loosely for now). Leave the ends loose.
- Stick the dowels in the grass around the cauldron.
- Pull the plastic over the top of the dowel so it goes up through the “neck” and into the “head”.
- Once secure, tighten the zip tie around the dowel as tightly as possible.
- You now have a ghostly spirit that will flutter in the breeze around the cauldron!
NOTE: If you desire, you can cut two “arms” on each ghost and tie them together so they are “holding hands” in a circle.