Building a Burning Man Effigy - Space Needle Edition

Introduction: Building a Burning Man Effigy - Space Needle Edition

About: I MAKE in my sleep. I MAKE for keeps. I MAKE I MAKE I MAKE creative me.

On a whim, Ms. Zoid and I decided to sell our Burning Man tickets and head to Seattle this year. We are certainly "burning" while we are here and found a group of Seattle Burners who are having a Playa Party on a nearby beach Saturday night.
The photos are a bit crude as I was in a dark and little apartment late at night when I decided to build this. I also created all of this on my phone so I'll clean everything up when I get back home to my computer.

Let's Participate!

Items Needed:
Cardboard - 3X2 feet
Toothpicks - 20 or so

I found the perfect cardboard pieces in our camp's (apartment) recycle bin and toothpicks in the kitchen drawer. The toothpicks will help hold all of the pieces together and provide extra support. After assembling everything, I realized that the toothpicks did not provide enough support. I used the wax from the candle to help adhere the cardboard pieces together and to give it additional burning power.

Tools Needed:
Swiss Army pocket knife

I always carry a Sharpie and a pocket knife with me, so I already had those tools. I later found a pair of scissors when I was looking for toothpicks - so I started using them.

Step 1: Sketching Your Effigy Base

The camp we are taking care of doesn't have much in the way of art supplies so I just made do with what I found laying around.
I looked out the window at the Space Needle and drew up a few sketches, picked one I liked and drew it onto the cardboard. I did this all freehand and decided to add the Man into the Space Needle to blend the two icons together.

1. Sketch out a few ideas of what you would like your design to look like.
2. Choose your favorite image.
3. Draw your favorite image onto the cardboard piece while trying to use as much surface area as possible.

Step 2: Cutting Your Effigy Base

In this step I started cutting with my pocket knife, which was okay because it was sharp. I did find scissors later on and recommend using them if you have a pair. We will build this as a 3-D shape for maximum support. We will start with the base first.

1. Be sure you have two pieces of cardboard of similar size.
2. Cut out your design into the first shape. Any flaws will now become apparent, so cut around them.
3. Cut the rough shape for now. You can cut out more detail later on. We just need one side for a template for now.
4. Place the cut design on your other piece of cardboard and trace your outline.
5. Cut the new piece as you did the first one.

The next step involves locking the two base pieces together to create a sturdy, 3-D platform. I wasn't able to get the perfect photo so I may be a bit wordy as I explain this part.

Now that the 2 sides of the base are cut, it's time to slide them together. This involves cutting one piece from the middle to the top and the other piece from the middle to the bottom.

1. Place both pieces side by side with hands and feet touching on one side. Find the middle of one piece and make a mare with your Sharpie.
2. Locate the same spot on your second base piece and mark it too.
3. Now draw a line vertically from your middle mark to the top of the first base piece. This is the line you will cut out.
4. Draw a line on the second base. This line will be from the middle mark to the bottom of this base piece (vertically).
5. Cut both pieces on the lines you just drew. These cuts should be narrow or the thickness of the cardboard you are using.
6. After cutting both pieces, you can now slide them together to create your sturdy base. No toothpicks are necessary as this will be pretty sturdy.

Step 3: Cutting Your Effigy Top

This step finishes the look of the Space Needle. It was a bit more tricky than the base but not too hard. You can be pretty loose with your design and I'm sure everyone will know exactly what you set out to create.

1. Cut a round disc of cardboard approximately the diameter of the hands from the base. After cutting, trace it onto another piece and out a second one of the same size.
2. Cut a third round piece out of cardboard about 2 inches larger in diameter.
3. Cut 4 strips of cardboard at approx. 1 1/2 inches wide by 15 inches long. These will act as the windows of the observatory and restaurant.
4. Place the first round piece (small) onto the hands of the base. Using a strip you just cut, size the strip to fit inside the round piece and cut the remaining end off.
5. Put 2 toothpicks in the end of the strip piece and slide the other end of the strip onto the exposed end of the toothpicks. You should end up with a "hatband" of sorts.
6. Repeat this process to create your observation deck.
7. I put my cardboard scraps and vacation dinner receipts inside of the observation deck pieces to give it a bit more fire power.
8. I now used toothpicks to hold the deck together by piercing the flat round pieces and securing the window pieces to them. Use enough toothpicks to make it secure enough to travel. I will be carrying this effigy a ways to the beaches fire pit so I want it to be secure for the trip.
9. I used some candle wax to give the observation deck some extra stability. I took wax from the candle and spread it onto pieces (with a toothpick) to help lock it into place.
10. Cut out the needle for the very top. I over-exaggerated my needle for that finished look.
11. Poke a toothpick into the bottom of your needle and then to the top middle of the observation deck.

You now have a burn able effigy.

Step 4: Burning the Man

I will record the burning of our effigy tonight and post it soon after we return to our own camp (house) in Colorado. Stay tuned to this page for the best part of this project.

We will burn our Space Needle effigy in an approved fire pit on the playa at Golden Gardens among experienced friends.

Items Needed:
Space Needle effigy
Fire pit
Bucket of water - 2 gallons or more
Matches or lighter
A bunch of friends with cameras - Haha

(edited) Lighter Fluid

I plan to burn this from the top down. I can already tell that the legs, if burnt first, would topple and the observation deck would never burn.

~Okay, we burned our effigy for a great crowd on a playa in Seattle and it went very well. The video has now been posted, enjoy.

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    5 years ago

    Hope you enjoy the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for coming our way!