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Giant Fire Circle For Nines’ Album Cover

By Mat Foster on 3rd May 2024 (updated: 10th May 2024) in Case Studies

Last year we made something pretty epic. And there wasn’t an ice cube in sight.

We created a 50m-wide circle of fire with flaming text inside for the artwork on rap artist Nines’ album: “Crop Circle 2”.

How we got the job

It was late December and the UK had been covered in a rare blanket of snow. Warner Records in London were working with one of their artists, Nines, on his new album. For his previous record “Crop Circle” he had made a real-life crop circle in a wheat field for his album cover.

The circle was 50m wide and you could see just see Nines himself standing at the top of the diamond.

They came up with the idea of creating another crop circle for the new album, only they would do it in the snow this time. Needing someone specialising in frozen art, they jumped on the internet, quickly found our website and dropped us a call to see if we were interested in helping create the new snowy crop circle.

Whilst discussing methods, and designs and looking for locations, the weather started to turn warm and wet, and we were forced to abandon the idea before we even started.

In my last email to Warner Records, I suggested scaling the idea back and having an ice sculpture instead. We could make an ice circle with the words carved in it, or (the idea flashed through my head) we could do it in fire.

I had made a fire sculpture for my friend’s wedding the year before. I created a 4mx4 Celtic knot design and knew I could use the same technique to write the words “Crop Circle 2”.

My suggestions didn’t have the epic scope they were looking for, the job disappeared and in our winter madness, preparing for all our Ice Sculpture Trails we forgot all about it. Then at the beginning of March, we received a call.

Warner Records: “You know that 4m fire sculpture you showed us? Could you do it lying flat and could you do it much bigger?”

Me: “How big?”

Warner Records: “Like 50 metres big. So we can film it from above with a drone”.

Me: “I’m afraid not. No that’s far too big. That’s imposs-…that’s…well…that’s… maybe…..maybe…yes. Yes, we can do that.”

Fortune favours the bold!

How we did it

There were 2 questions I needed to answer before we could 100% confirm the job and order the materials needed for such a large fire.

  1. Would the fire writing be clearly visible from the height the drone needed to be, to get the full 50m diameter circle in shot? The special rope we used to set fire was only 4cm thick. So would a 4cm line of flame be visible from such a great height?

I still had 1 metre of the fire rope left from my friend’s wedding so we went to Crosby Beach to do a test. We used 2 fire torches to mark out a distance of 50 metres and placed the scrap of rope in the middle. Once the sun went down we lit the two torches and the scrap of rope and sent up a drone to see how it looked. When the drone was high enough to have both fire torches in shot, the metre of burning rope was, thankfully, clearly visible. The rope might only be 4cm thick but the flame was over a foot high. And, as the breeze caught the flame, it flapped and created a much wider line of flame to the rope. It looked perfect.

  1. Where was I going to find a farmer who would let us set a 50m-wide fire in his field?

For quite a few years now, we have been doing professional Pumpkin Carving demonstrations at Halloween. When we first began I needed to source some giant pumpkins and after a bit of online research, I found the wonderful Mark O’Hanlon at Hesketh Bank (

Mark produces all kinds of crafty materials on his farm. I sent him an email outlining the project and to my surprise, he emailed back saying he was game. More than that, he seemed quite excited.

So I knew my firewriting method would work and I knew we had a field to do it in. Then came the fun job of working out the exact amount of rope we would need and creating a plan of how we were going to mark the design on the field. I did this the old-school way, drawing a map and measuring all the distances between each point of the design. It was extremely complicated, but the exact sort of complication my brain loves.

We needed over 600 metres of the specialist fire rope and 300 litres of paraffin. Not to mention hundreds of marker flags and wooden stakes, several rolls of different coloured string, a trundle wheel, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, buckets and 25 blow torches.

We spent a week on Marks’s farm preparing everything. The weather was terrible and the rain came down sideways. It took us over a day to plot the design onto the field.

Then it took us 4 days to prime over 100 sections of fire rope cut to specific lengths using a technique that prevented the paraffin from evaporating or leaking out.

Once the rope was prepped, Mark began ferrying us from the barn over to the event site on his tractor and we started the process of laying the correct sections of fire rope over their corresponding lengths of string. It all started to come together exactly as planned.

The day of the event

The weather had been shocking all week, but on the day of the shoot the wind started to subside and the sun came out.

Nathen (the art director from Warner) and @drone.capone (the professional drone operator) arrived first from London, to work out the shots and positions the drone would film from.

Once lit, the fire would only burn for 10 minutes. I had estimated it would take us 5 minutes to get all the rope aflame. That left only 5 minutes for the drone operator to get his shots.

An incredibly tight window with no room for error.

I had arranged a crew of 20 fire stewards (the SAS of Liverpool’s art world) to meet us onsite at 4pm for a run though of their health and safety, security and fire lighting roles.

Around 5 pm a minibus arrived from London with more crew from Warner Records and the man himself, Nines, whose vision started this whole crazy idea in the first place. Like his previous album cover, he wanted to be standing inside the crop circle. Ideally without catching fire himself!

As the sun went down everyone took their positions on the field and we waited for the darkness to become just right for the camera.

It was eerily quiet with all 20 fire lighting crew spread out around the 50-metre circle. I had drummed home to everyone on the fire crew that I wanted complete silence. I only wanted to hear you if you couldn’t make fire – or if you were on fire!

The call echoed down over the field from the command centre. Go go, go!

We all sparked up our blow torches and began lighting our designated sections of the rope. The only sound was the hum as the drone went up into the air.

Time slowed. As the smoke started to rise, the fire illuminated it, so it felt like were standing within a glowing red dome. The fire team did a fantastic job. Lighting their section first, helping their neighbour if they needed help, and then getting out as quickly and safely as possible. Within minutes we were all out of shot and gathered around the laptop at the command centre to watch the drone footage.

Once the smoke cleared and the fire stabilised everyone started clapping and cheering. The footage looked incredible, the fire writing was clearly visible and Nines wasn’t on fire.

The drone zipped back and forth getting lots of shots from different angles. 10 minutes felt like an hour.

It hadn’t just been a shoot, it had been an event and everyone was buzzing with adrenaline by the time the fire burned out. It was the perfect job. By 9 o’clock everyone was off-site and on their way home to Liverpool or London.

The field the morning after the fire.

Watch the finished film below: