How to Make a Fake Fireplace

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Just because your lease forbids roaring fireplaces in your apartment, doesn't mean you can't create the illusion of a warming hearth. You can build a fake fireplace to substitute for the real thing on a wintry night. The only disadvantage is that you can't roast marshmallows in it.

Things You'll Need

  • Used fireplace grill
  • 6-inch platform
  • Fake logs
  • Red, yellow and orange cloth
  • Small fan
  • Glowing red light (optional)
  • Crackly cellophane (optional)
  • Start with a fireplace grill. These can be cheaply had at a garage sale or thrift shop, or borrow one for the run of the show. Clean it up and, if chipped, touch it up so it is nice and black. This goes in the center of your platform, which should be as wide as the fireplace mantle (assuming you have one) and deep enough to hold the grill.

  • Arrange the logs. Stack two together at the bottom, then two or three on top. Paint them with some ash and charcoal accents for realism.

  • Sew flames from your cloth, which should be light and flexible. The easiest method is to take three or four scarves in red, orange and yellow and cut them the width of the grill less about a third. Raggedly cut the flames between 8 and 12 inches high. Hot glue them to the back of the top log by taking out the top log, turning it over and gluing them so they point down and the tops are staggered. Return the log to the pile when the glue cools.

  • Position a small fan underneath the flames to blow them upward during the scene. Avoid overkill: you just need one of those little handheld fans people use in summer. Duct tape it in position after someone in the house confirms that it looks right. Add an optional 6 volt red light or have someone backstage make a crackling sound with some cellophane or an old potato chip bag as the scene starts.

Tips & Warnings

  • For a campfire, ditch the grill and make the logs into a realistic fire. In this case, paint the inside of the logs red and depend on the red glow (put it on a dimmer) for realism, rather than flames. Set the campfire inside a ring of "stones" that conceals the light.
  • Instead of scarves, some prefer metallic strips for a fantasy look.
  • Make sure to have enough extra batteries for the fan during production.

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