Smoky but safe props
January 3, 2016 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I need to find a way to mimic/craft a round cartoon bomb. How?

I make videos reenacting Swedish Chef clips. I want to do this one, in which a chicken lays a bomb. I don't know how to. I figure I don't necessarily need an explosion, but some sort of smoke would be good.

I've read the last few AskMe questions on stereotypical cartoon bombs (which I was pleasantly surprised to find!), but I guess even if they had said that these existed I wouldn't want to use a real one....

Relevant: I live in Prague right now, so don't have access to Amazon Prime.
posted by aaanastasia to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A sports-ball of some sort wrapped in paper mache and painted (or electrical tape), with a magnesium fuse hot glued to it?

I'm not sure where fuses would be sold, but if you needed to you could cut a few off some fireworks. (And be safe about it)
posted by FallowKing at 10:08 AM on January 3, 2016

In case anyone is wondering, there is a projects and a mefi post about aaanastasia's previous swedish chefing
posted by rockindata at 10:22 AM on January 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

In regard to fuses: maybe you could use a curved piece of thin steel cable? Unless you actually need to be able to light the end...
posted by janepanic at 10:25 AM on January 3, 2016

Instead of some sort of sports ball, a balloon covered in papier-mache might suffice.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:52 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here's an instructable for making them out of foam sheets. I'm not sure what they're doing with the fuse, though. If you want one that actually burns it is pretty easy to make one yourself.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:57 AM on January 3, 2016

How about dry ice behind the egg and a firecracker? Wet the dry ice and it smokes. You can empty a regular chicken egg make a hole in the backside of it, away from the camera, big enough to put in the dry ice, for effect, tape the firecracker to the back of the egg with a fuse, glue the eggshell down or use museum putty. Make four eggs to get it right. You can use any soundtrack you can find, it just has to look exploding.
posted by Oyéah at 11:26 AM on January 3, 2016

First, whatever foam you use, carve off a piece and light it on fire. Whatever it does, that's what it's going to do with a live fuse. Some sculpting foams burn energetically; others just scorch.

The fuse you're looking for, I've always called "green fuse," but it might be called cannon fuse. Some burn fast, some burn slow, and any good store should tell which is which. A typical time might be 2 seconds per inch, and you can buy the stuff in long lengths and cut to your preference-- a 5-6" fuse might be just right for a 10-second display. It's not quite as spectacular as the one in the video, but it occasionally throws sparks and it does give off smoke smoke. It burns wet with no problem.

Check the model rocketry community for this stuff. Model rocket motors are usually ignited with little electric matches, but they sometimes use fuse as well.

You could also go with the magnesium ribbon, which is sold in chemistry supply stores. Magnesium burns hot and is challenging to put out (it burns under water; you have to smother it) so use short lengths; but it does have a very bright spark as it burns. When you're doing some burning, move all the ribbon you're not using well away. Like I said, it's challenging to put it out, so don't give it the chance to light off the whole amount.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2016

I would not use magnesium for this, it burns way too hot and bright and is nearly impossible to extinguish. Saltpetre and sugar are the usual recipe for easy smoke bombs. A high concentration of saltpetre soaked into a fabric or paper will make a slow burning fuse, as will a fabric that has less air pockets. Cotton or paper based fabrics burn fairly clean.
posted by benzenedream at 12:16 AM on January 4, 2016

I think you should use a sparkler for a fuse, they look just like the fuse in the video, and they give off a fair amount of smoke.

In the UK we let small children play with them on bonfire night, so they are pretty safe and easy to put out in a glass of water.
posted by derbs at 3:10 AM on January 4, 2016

Thank you everyone! This was really helpful. I think if I had easy access to a lot of things I would have done black balloon + sparkler + dry ice, so that I could have an explosion AND sparks AND smoke. I am not crafty enough (yet!) for some of the more in-depth suggestions!

What I ended up doing was: After failing to find black balloons, I came across a plastic toy bowling set -- which included miniature black bowling balls. My friend found some sparklers and I taped a sparkler to that, and then lit it while the chicken was laying its egg -- we also used a bomb exploding sound effect. If you're curious to see how it turned out (including me accidentally dropping the lighter on my table, oops) the video is here.
posted by aaanastasia at 12:13 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by derbs at 3:02 AM on January 12, 2016

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