Loam, rain, flames, boric acid, Timbits

Per the recent fire ban in Calgary, we had to cover the ground around the Serpent with dirt to help dampen the ground and help prevent any errant fires from catching the dry earth. We spent Tuesday morning shoveling piles of fresh loam around, while doing the few last repairs and tweaks ahead of our final fire inspection.


Shoveling and raking loam all over the area beneath the Snake. photo by Denise


Sam rakes loam, and Denise eats PTFE tape while swapping our some vertebrae plumbing. photo by Ted


Margaret talking with the fire marshals, meeting all of their questions and concerns with objective and thoughtful responses to why everything we do is perfectly safe. photo by Denise


pwWWOOOOFFFF: a loud, hot diesel shot for an already-toasty day. photo by Denise

Here is a short video of the diesel shots. (Please forgive me for shooting it vertical, but it is way too tall to capture it any other way!) What you can’t feel from watching it is how absurdly HOT it was, even as far away as I was standing. You also can’t see the enormous black plumes of smoke that hung in the air and gently drifted towards the city… and yes, yes the fire department received many concerned phone calls about this. Again. They’re absolutely aware of us and what we’re doing though — we telephone them directly 30 minutes before every big shoot. So it’s cool.

After a long day of work, a few of Calgary’s own Blazin’ Lily Gals met us on site and we did a safety training and site walk-through with them to get them oriented to how we run a show. Then we walked back to the hotel and feasted on delicious Indian food and beers, and hung out for a long time swapping Burning Man tales, art build stories and other adventures. We are so stoked to have a crew of experienced locals who will be helping us out with fire safety all through Beakerhead!

This morning we woke up to discover it had rained steadily all night long, and was significantly chillier and windier than yesterday! Good thing we have new coveralls for this gig, because all that freshly spread loam…  turned into a swamp.

denise on egg controls Suzanne

Our day-time diesel shot happened during low winds and a slight rain, but conditions were still acceptable for us to shoot. Our audience was mostly school kids who came out to see the Snake during class. Margaret and Andrea on the ball valve, Denise on the egg shooter controls. photo by Rhiannon


In the middle of this morning’s rainy wind, Paul of the Blazin’ Lily Gals came through with some hot Tim Horton’s coffee and a box of tasty Timbits! Canadian hospitality is AWESOME! <3 <3 photo by Denise

After our morning show, we spent our afternoon going for walks around the city, hanging out in the hotel hot tub, napping, and generally catching up after 4+ days of non-stop build. Then it was time to head back for our night shows.


Robin, Hethur, Margaret and Ted putting their mud-caked shoes and coveralls back on, OUTside our nice clean hotel. photo by Denise

Robin dancing by Andrea

Hooray, the rain stopped! Robin spins in her spiffy coveralls while we trudge back to the Fort Calgary site for our evening show. photo by Rhiannon


Margaret and Denise crush up lithium in a mortar and pestle and funnel it into a fresh barrel of liquid methanol. photo by Ted


Sam fills the large pressure vessel with salted methanol, ahead of our first shot of the night. photo by Denise


Our hero engineer Mike Prados arrived on site today, and settled in immediately driving the hydraulics that control the Snake’s head. Here is a throwback shot of him at the shop in 2006, posing with the newly-constructed mandible subassembly. photo by Michelle P


Ted fills the pressure vessel with methanol mixed with boric acid for our 2nd show of the night. Boric acid makes green fire! photo by Denise

rhiannon pic

Rhiannon got this gorgeous shot of the underlit vertebrae and the continuous flames.


We are getting a lot of media interest this week. Watch Andrea and Robin explain the basics of the Serpent in a quick 30-second montage that was published on Global News today. (Our part starts about 22 seconds in.)

And the CBC did a short video of us as well, featuring our daytime diesel shots from this morning’s show for the local schools.

And Margaret was on live TV yesterday morning! Actual video soon, but here is a literal screen-shot:

margaret on tv

photo by Sam

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: