77 Days 'til Halloween: Making the Cauldron Pyre - Part One

Now that the Cauldron is finished, today I started to make the pyre it will sit on boiling old Grool. I'm revising the one seen in the initial sketch. It's now going to be a decrepit stone fire pit. I want it to look like it was once pristine and perfect masonry, but the elements and hundreds of forbidden rituals have taken a toll.

Using a 36" plywood round as a base, I glued chunks of Styrofoam on with expanding foam. Then carved into wonky stone shapes using a paring knife. I have to say, I've used a lot different tools to shape bead foam in my time - hot wires, electric carving knives, box cutters, saws, grinders, etc. - but non compare to a good sharp kitchen paring knife.

After cleaning away the debris, I used a heat gun to "seal" the rough edges and shaped the foam blocks even more. I did this very quickly and wearing a respirator! The fumes are really noxious.

I always enjoy painting Styrofoam when it's supposed to look like rock. It's texture and absorption does most of the faux finishing for you. Just an initial black wash on it looked pretty good.

Because there will be a lot of black scorching and grey ash details in and around the pit, I added some olive green and tan color wash to the stones for contrast using a spray bottle. The green, especially puddling in small divots and crevices added a really cool, old growth mossy feel.

To help the pit look well used, I glued some bits of foam in between the stones as piled up embers spilling out. They were based coated black and dry brushed with a bluish grey for an ashy look.

I'm probably going to add more embers all the way around the bottom edge, but I'll do that as a finishing touch once the entire piece is done.

That's it for now. Next in Part Two - creating the faux fire itself. My hope is to make it big and bright enough that it will cast a nice glow on some surrounding props in the yard.


  1. Love the carving of the stones, and the ashes in between look amazing. The coloring is really well done, It is extremely realistic... makes me want to build a cauldron just so that I can have a fire pit as well! Love it!

  2. Dang, Dave...That's looking great already.
    If I keep reading your posts I just might actually find myself inspired to build something Halloween-y.

  3. Wow, I am always trilled to check your blog out....amazing stuff!! Great inspiration to us all!


  4. Okay, okay- I promise to step away from my ever-troubling haunted pipe organ and make the fire now. You've officially inspired me to make an inferior product.

  5. I've been putting off my plan of three witches around a cauldron for several years now, so I'm enjoying watching you actually getting this done.

  6. Great work. Effing overachiever. ;o)

  7. Way cool.
    Can you come to Germany and make one for me? *g*

  8. Hello Dave,

    Awesome stuff. I love how your stuff looks so realistic.I have a question about your fire pit.Where did you get the styrofoam blocks and what are their dimensions. I can't seem to find anything other than the green foam blocks at Micheals art store.


  9. Where do you go to get the pellet type styromfoam that is that thick?