Whether you plan to burn a witch, stage a demon rising from hell or BBQ a corpse, this simple, inexpensive bed of coals can be created with minimal time and effort to make the scene pop. The resulting prop is also light weight and water resistant.
I began with a piece of corrugated plastic board from an old yard sign. I also covered it with aluminum foil to hide any of the image on it that might show through. This forms the base of the coals and is sturdy enough to carry the prop. For this example I cut a hole in the center and took care not to cover it so that I could drive a short piece of rebar into the ground to support a piece of bamboo with a doll tied to it.
Collect a variety of clear plastic bottles. Cut off the top part of as many bottles as you need to cover your base. Be sure to cut them into various heights. Colored bottles could be used, but I chose to stick with clear bottles so the light would be as bright as possible.
Next, place a set of orange or red holiday string lights on the base. Leave some extra cord on the end with the plug sticking out past the edge of the base. Push some lights up into the bottle necks. You can tape or glue them to the inside of the bottle necks if you wish, but it’s not necessary (I did not).
Once the lights are evenly spread out and the bottles placed, randomly spray expanding foam over the entire thing. Be sure to leave some holes in the foam for the light to show through. After the foam has dried completely, spray a combination of red, gray and black paint on it so that it also looks like hot coals during the daylight. Take care not to spray into the holes too much or you will block the lights from shinning through.
Below is an attempt to show the finished product in the dark. My doll needs some work to show the result of her torturous demise. But, you get the idea. And, as you can tell in the above photograph, she actually stands on her own indoors. Outside she is even more stable as a short piece of rebar is driven into the center hole in the prop to support the bamboo stake to which she is tied.