Crafts Involving Sterno, Wizards, and Coffee


December really has turned into Sterno craft month. It turns out that it’s easy and fun to upgrade your winter crafts with FIRE, HUMANITY’S WEAPON AGAINST THE FROZEN AND BRUTAL WILDERNESS. For instance, my brother Oliver is in town (hurrah!), and he came over to build graham-cracker gingerbread houses with us. First, we decided that we wanted to build an Awesome Wizard’s Keep, because Awesome Keeps are where Awesome Wizards hang out.

From there to the fearsome and terrible TOWER OF STERNO was just a short, logical step:

The Tower of Sterno

Oliver has been painting mandalas, and so he was able to shave the graham crackers into perfect little octagons. The crenelations are all his, too. I had planned on putting some little marshmallow heads on the little pretzel pikes, but overall the Tower of Sterno doesn’t really give off the grim, foreboding aspect that we had been shooting for. I thought maybe if we put a little marzipan wizard out in front, shooting lightning bolts at a hovering dragon, that might give the whole thing the aura of 1970s van-mural majesty I had in mind. Perhaps graham crackers and royal icing is not the medium for Heavy-Metal Awesomeness.

So we decided to just toast some marshmallows instead:

Lydia and the Tower of Sterno

Then, on Christmas, I received the long-awaited Yama 3-cup tabletop vacuum coffee brewer that I had asked Santa for. Hurrah! Oliver and I set it up, carefully replacing the included alcohol burner with the same trusty can of Sterno:

Siphon Filter!

The vacuum coffee brewer worked really great, though I was too engrossed in the bubbling and boiling and chemistry going on that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual coffee (here’s a good photoset of a vacuum brewer in action.)

Okay, so the project is all coming together really well. Today, Oliver, Matt, Randy, Lydia and I went to The Fire Store in Coatesville (here’s a photoset of my last visit.) Matt bought a Pelican case for his video camera; Randy snapped pictures of an actual fubar (I think it may have been a titanium fubar), and Oliver picked up a “Pocket Homeland Defense Operations Manual”, for which he got questioned at checkout.

I bought a foam-lined flight case for the siphon pot’s laboratory-style glassware, because EVERYTHING looks cooler in a foam-lined flight case, and so it’ll survive rough terrain in the sidecar:

Vacuum coffee pot in Pelican case

Okay, so now THAT part is complete, and I can find a suitable sidecar mounting point. On to the propane tank, the wok burner, and a brazing up a wire-mesh basket for the bean roaster. Onward and upward!

Hmm, if I’m going to mount the pots on the motorcycle, I’m going to need to replace the pot’s stand with some laboratory glassware stands. There’s a great big laboratory-supply company in West Chester, and a friendly local blogger who runs their website, so I’m going to ask him what the official name is for “a right-angled flask holder grabby thing, suitable for inserting into a countersunk galvanized pipe so you tan take it in or pull it out.” I bet there’s a name for that, like a “Hachtsenfeffer stand” or something.


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