The Art and Science of Working With Propane

We are thrilled to be included in a new Maker-focused book, The Art and Science of Working With Propane !
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Make Magazine publishes books that delve into the most popular topics in the DIY world, and they’ve just released their latest read. It focuses on the history, combustion chemistry, and guts of propane-based flame effects, and explains how to build and run them safely.
Author Tim Deagan, a licensed Flame Effects Operator, asked FLG for our input to supplement his very thorough research. The result is this straight-forward and engaging read that examines the core element of the art we make, and explains it all beautifully. If you’ve ever wondered about anything from the basics of fire art to more nuanced techniques, this book is a terrific reference.

The Egg at Winter Blast!

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the transition from green to pink fire. photo by Mills.

This weekend, the Flaming Lotus Girls brought our Serpent Egg to the annual Western Pyrotechnics Association’s Winter Blast conference. We’d talked about coming to this event for years, and under the good tutelage of Dave X, we finally made it happen.

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photo by Mills.

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fire safety. photo by Mills.

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It’s hard to capture what it feels like to be under a canopy of crackling light. photo by Mills.

Winter Blast attracts pyrotechnicians and fireworks enthusiasts from all over North America. Everyone gathers in the dusty speedway of Lake Havasu, AZ to take seminars and workshops, network with each other, swap industry knowledge, get licensed, show off their newest product and celebrate with their community. Imagine a big RV campout party in the gorgeous Arizona desert, golf carts puttering by, the smell of BBQ wafting through the air, and the occasional heart-stopping boom and cloud of dark smoke overhead. At night, the crowd packs into the bleachers to watch the big public performances: carefully orchestrated firework displays, replete with perfectly-timed music and hundreds of different effects.

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JDV and Margaret plumbing like plumbers. photo by Mills.

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This was truly one of our most beautiful trenches. photo by Denise.

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Crew plus helpers, lowering the big pipe into the trench.

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JDV and Mills mixing salts into the methanol. photo by Denise.

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Ted mixing salts. photo by Mills.

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Denise and Liam refilling the pressure vessel. photo by Mills.

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Dave X gets his fireworks ready while JDV whispers magical incantations into the controls box. photo by Mills.

Winter Blast is very different from the shows we’re used to doing: we don’t look like the typical Winter Blast attendee, we don’t do fireworks, and what we represent is a bit outside the norm for this crowd. But from the minute we started unloading the trailer, people came over to ask us what we were about, what that hose carried, what fuel we used, what that pressure vessel does… People were genuinely interested in us. We got solid questions right off the bat, and quickly found common ground.

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Mills, Bethany and Margaret, mugging for our FLG pal Big E who we missed! photo by Mills.

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Bethany is exactly one pressure vessel tall. photo by Denise.

On Saturday afternoon, we gave a talk called “Shoot Fire Like a Girl” and explained to a fully packed tent all about how we operate, the fuels and colorants we use, the nitty gritty of our plumbing systems, how our control systems work, and how our Serpent Egg’s blowdown shooter system works. We talked for over an hour and could’ve easily gone on longer, especially since the audience had plenty of good questions for us.

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JDV fields a complicated plumbing question during our seminar. photo by Bethany.

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Bethany and the apparati.

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Margaret and Mills in the fuel depot, observing. photo by Denise.

Our typical shooter shows do not involve carefully-timed cue sheets, or much coordination at all outside of our own fuel depot. But for our public shooter shows, we were blasting off our big fire plumes in time with the fireworks, so we needed to be right in synch with them. On Friday night, we did a big show with Dave X. It began with him narrating a hilarious creation myth of how the Egg came to arrive in the middle of the Lake Havasu speedway. Then the Egg’s shell blossomed open to smoke effects and creepy music, and the fireworks and shooter duet dazzled the crowd.

The next night, we did a completely different show with fireworks curator Craig Cutright and the Devastating Pyrotechnics crew. This performance was really unique for several reasons. It didn’t rely on the classic and predictable fireworks music like American rock ‘n roll, Disney hits, and other catch-all favorites — they chose a totally different artistic sound as their audio backdrop. Using fire art as a centerpiece grounded the performance nicely, as it brought the audiences’ focus from a central spot on the ground up to the sky and back. 

“This show really broke the molds for the WPA event,” says Dave X, who has decades of experience in this field. “I think it will have ripples through the industry.”

 

 

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Cue sheet! photo by Denise.

Sitting in the fuel depot, we were 200’ away from where the fireworks were launched from — it was so close we had to lay on our backs to see it all. It was a tremendous display.

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The sounds of this many delicate sparks going off overhead is really special. photo by Mills.

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The menu at the BBQ joint. photo by Denise.

During our downtime, we helped our friends The Jackalopes dismantle stock fireworks and reassemble them into vastly improved (and much crazier) pinwheel ground effects. We also got to shoot off Class B fireworks, and see how mortars, mines, comets and fountains look from right up close.

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The Jackalopes setting up their crazy rig. photo by Mills.

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Re-engineering some stock fireworks with our pyro pals the Jackalopes! photo by Denise.

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Building better pinwheels: arts and crafts with the Jackalopes. photo by Denise.

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Like a kid in a fireworks shop. photo by Mills.

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Armfulls of PRODUCT!

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Shooting diesel! photo by Mithril of the Jackalopes.

Winter Blast was a very special event and we had a fabulous time. We are especially proud of our own FLG Dave X for bringing in the most new WPA members for the year, and for introducing us to this crazy mix!

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Egg crew with our membership sponsor and spiritual guide Dave X!

Heartbeats, this Sunday!

Right on the heels of our banger party last Friday night, we’re back at it this weekend! We’re teaming up with Airpusher Collective to throw down again. Come out and shake it with an all-female DJ line up, including BLANCAh, all the way from Brazil!

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Get your tickets here, and we’ll see you at the End Up!

In The Red fundraiser!

See you there toNIGHT!

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