My idea for this piece was to create a depiction of how people used to believe how salamanders came to life: through fire.

As always, I first gathered as many materials as I could. The chief components are typewriter parts, driftwood, picture frame, conduit and a good box.

(Update: This work is sold)


Next I made a visit to the good folks at The Light Bulb Shop.  I was resigned to have a steady orange and/or red light behind the driftwood to show fire, but when I described what I wanted to do, they gave me a couple flickering orange lights, which worked perfectly! See the video below for the initial installation.

Next was work on the first salamander. Using the conduit, typewriter parts and a couple measuring spoons, I was able to twist, cut, screw and (jb) weld a salamander together, and attached it to the box:


And then next came the paint. I wanted the colors to match those of actual Fire Salamanders, so went with the yellow black combination:


There were initially going to be three salamanders crawling all over the box, but felt it needed another element. So instead of the third sculptural salamander, I found an illustration from 1607 of one in fire, which was of course appropriate. I colorized it with Photoshop, printed it, mounted it on balsa wood. Then it was attached to a candlestick base, with a battered gear behind it.





I created another salamander which was attached to the right side of the box. You can see it in the final pictures.

Below are views of the Fire Lizards. It is a 14 x 14 x 8 inch shadow box with lighting. I thought I was done at this point, but after taking these photos, kept working…

The Fire Lizards - Right

The Fire Lizards - Left

The Fire Lizards - Detail

Finished? Not so fast!

There were enough parts for another salamander, so figured may as well do another…having the opportunity to take a snapshot of an attached salamander, I did just that:


This salamander was constructed the same as the previous ones, except for the fact that it had to be self-hanging, versus attached to the box. I had to drill two hole in the stomach for screws, which would hold wiring for it.

Fire Lizard

I hung it over the original work, and thought this additional salamander added to it. I am still trying to decide whether they be sold together as a unit, or separately.  See below for a picture of both pieces together.

The Fire Lizards

Here is a video that shows both the original piece and the extra salamander. Despite the quality of the video, it helps show the depth and lighting effects:

Fire Lizard - Detail

Critters of Fire
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4 thoughts on “Critters of Fire

  • April 21, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Fantastic work as always! Have to check out those flickering light bulbs you used… where is the power source? I assume it is battery, although I think I see a power cord dangling on the left. It COULD be battery, although I don’t know if LEDs would flicker the way those lights do. I’m sure your piece will be accepted; it looks great!

    Just wait – in my last thrift store cruising I found 5 real-wood cigar boxes, 4 of them identical… big luck.

    • April 21, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Hi there Miso! Good to hear from you…it’s an electrical source. I’ve been using LED lights for most of my lit-up pieces, but yeah, there are no LED that flicker like these, which are incandescent.

  • April 24, 2014 at 5:42 am

    Another gorgeous work, Scott. Beautifully conceived and executed. Good luck with the show!

    • April 24, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Thanks so much Larz! Hope you have been doing well!


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