Suggested Medium for an Outdoor Beast Head
August 14, 2012 8:46 AM   Subscribe

We had a new heating system installed that created two new pipes sticking out of the back of our house that belch steam. I thought it might be cool to build a huge beast head to hang over it so it looks like a smoke belching beast on the back of our otherwise sensible looking home. Aesthetically, I will just lay all my cards on the table and say that I was envisioning the beast head being built up mostly from flat scaley pieces like an AJ Fosik sculpture or a parade dragon. I have an artistic background and some experience with wood and clay sculpture, but I don't know how to weld or do anything exotic with plastics or anything, so I am in search of a medium that is hopefully cheap, preferably beginner friendly, and can stand up to steam and the outdoors in general (in upstate NY where we get all the seasons). Any suggestions?
posted by SharkParty to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to make sure you don't cover them both with a single cavity[head]. One is likely an intake and the other an exhaust, which means you wouldn't want to exhaust air into a cavity just to have it sucked back in by the intake.
posted by rocket_johnny at 8:54 AM on August 14, 2012

Response by poster: Oh yeah good call. I was thinking maybe it would be pretty open like a basket of scales and eyeballs so it hopefully wouldn't matter, but that's a valid concern.
posted by SharkParty at 8:58 AM on August 14, 2012

Yep, I came in for the same reason, you'll want to seek some guidance from a heating professional as to code and safety.

That said, sounds like a very neat idea! I've got the same pipes coming out of my boiler and exhausted under a small deck, looks like the house is on fire when the boiler is at full steam!
posted by HuronBob at 8:59 AM on August 14, 2012

Great ideas!

I'd use metal ducting from the hardware store and using tin snips, make the patterns of the dragons with that.

Then a heat resistent paint, like Rustoleum, for the color.

Take pics, I want to see this awesomeness!~
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have no specific suggestions, but this is the sort of thing they did on the TV series Monster House. So you might watch some of the episodes for ideas.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:14 AM on August 14, 2012

The cheapest thing that comes to mind would be corrugated plastic, the sort they make mail-sorting crates out of. Those crates are relatively expendable, so maybe you can talk your local post office out of one or two.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:42 AM on August 14, 2012

I like ruthless bunny's idea, but I'd get a jeweller's saw and some heavy blades and use sheet aluminum from the hardware store. still pretty cheap and will look a bit more hefty! you could also use acrylic/plexi sheets in colours which would look awesome, but that might not be the easiest thing to source.
posted by euphoria066 at 5:02 PM on August 14, 2012

A technical warning and then the fun. Don't enclose things too much - a lot of people put screens over these vents thinking they'll keep bugs out and have their exhaust ice over come winter time. As long as the mouth is as big as the pipe itself and doesn't extend too far, you should be fine.

OK, that said, these pipes are only PVC, right? You can thermoform PVC pretty easily with a heat gun, boiling water or so on. It will cut with a coping saw (for curved cuts) or a special pvc pipe saw (for straight cuts) and there is a glue specially designed for it.

If you wanted, you could build your sculpture over fresh pipe and then cut off most of what's currently there and replace it with your pipe+sculpture using a pipe coupler. Be sure of your inside/outside dimensions before you start.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:39 PM on August 14, 2012

Response by poster: Oh that's interesting... I hadn't actually thought about making a little head that fits on the end of a pipe like one of those old dragon horns or something, but that's a pretty cool idea.

The sheet metal is probably the easiest suggestion, but we have a clumsy dog who doesn't always think things through and this would be at dog-level, so I'd probably have to roll the edges or take some kind of finishing steps so that it wasn't just a huge deathblossom waiting to claim flesh.

I think I have seen sheets of corrugated plastic someplace being used as shipping padding, so that might be a good idea too. Thanks everyone! New ideas still welcome because I am dragging my feet on this project.
posted by SharkParty at 7:05 AM on August 15, 2012

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