How to construct a wicker man?
October 2, 2013 1:02 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants to build and burn a wicker man for his harvest party. Strangely the internet seems lacking in instructions or guidelines. Do you have any tips, resources or experience to share?

The plan is for a figure about 8' tall. He is particularly concerned with constructing it so it will remain upright. He's planning on building a skeleton of sorts out of two-by-fours, but once done he's not sure how to meld all the branches around the frame.
posted by luftmensch to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Does he have access to wicker? I'd tack hoops of wicker (or rattan) along the arms and legs and then stuff them full of more wicker and other burnable stuff.
posted by jquinby at 1:10 PM on October 2, 2013

2x4s are going to be a lot heavier than you need; you can get away with, um, I don't know what they're called, those cheap-ass strips of junk wood in the back of the lumberyard, the stuff they make palettes out of -- and it'll be plenty stable.

Friend and I did this a few years back (we were trying to make "Freezing Man", not a wicker man, but same idea) -- don't have plans for you as we just improvised as we went along, but here are photos that should be close enough:
[1] [2] [3] [4]

Once you've got a loose box skeleton like that you can just jam branches in wherever, should be fine.
posted by ook at 1:36 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

No actual wicker, but an abundance of boughs, branches and "what not." He lives on a wooded hill in Missouri.
posted by luftmensch at 1:42 PM on October 2, 2013

Furring strips - 1 x 2 x 6s are plenty cheap. Bundle long pieces of willow or whatever else you've got along a 1x 2 core and then tie the bundle every 8" or so with some brown twine. Don't wrench it down too tight - you want some air in there to aid in combustion.
posted by jquinby at 1:46 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

You don't need a skeleton. Get willow or rattan and soak it in a tub and you cn weave it into any shape you want. It'll stand up on its own. Then I'd drive a single possibly metal post into the ground, build the pyre around it and secure the man to it at the base to hold it as the pyre burns.
posted by fshgrl at 3:42 PM on October 2, 2013

You can just soak wicker in water, it will become bendable. If he doesn't want to actually weave it, he can probably loop it around the frame and attach it with a staple gun.

I'm not sure what you mean by "meld", and using branches instead. If he wants it to burn quickly for a short time, branches won't do that, and they are going to be harder to get going. Just attaching the branches? Bailing wire. He might end up with a small bonfire, if he wants the branches to stay put for a while use lots and lots of bailing wire.

He is particularly concerned with constructing it so it will remain upright

If it stays upright as built, it's not likely to continue doing so after it's on fire. Make the legs of the skeleton longer than needed and bury them in the ground. Be sure to put them out after burning him, wood can burn in the ground and even set roots on fire.
posted by yohko at 6:57 PM on October 2, 2013

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