Effigy proposal guidelines

Guidelines for Burning Flipside Effigy and DaFT Lead Proposal

The Design and Fabrication Team is responsible for the creation and construction of the effigy, which is the centerpiece and ceremonial fire for the event.


Selection Panel

The effigy will be chosen by a panel of past DaFT leads. The Catalyst Collective Board has the final decision, yet tends to approve whatever the panel considers as their prime choice.


Will depend on the year. The deadline for the 2024 effigy proposals is 11:59pm CST, January 1st, 2024.

Applicant Eligibility

Anyone may submit a proposal! While it is beneficial to have participated in Flipside and large art build projects, this is not necessarily required. Each applicant and proposal will be evaluated individually. Please note that the people sitting on the Panel are not barred from submitting DaFT proposals into the process; we completely trust their integrity to recommend the right project and if involved, they will probably recuse themselves from the actual selection.


After all the proposals are submitted, the panel will decide which ones they consider feasible, and may schedule interviews with the submitters to learn more about their vision. The decision on what gets built should be made sometime in mid-December. Please be available to meet with the Panel or the Board during this period. We want to help you make your proposal as strong as possible.


If a design is chosen for an interview, the panel will meet with the submitter and may offer advice in some areas that they think could warrant more attention. The more thought-out the initial approach, the faster the project can get to actual construction. Pre-submission consulting with panel members is encouraged!



If selected, you will be Lead for the Design and Fabrication Team – this is a Liability Lead role, and the Board will have final word on whether you have demonstrated your commitment and capability. You will be responsible for access to the warehouse and equipment, the budget, and for ensuring your design and process are reasonably safe.


You will need to recruit your team. While many volunteers will join, you should proactively recruit skilled workers for important areas to your design, as well as “lieutenants” who will be your sub- leads for major chunks of your project/process. If possible, have your lieutenants in mind during the proposal process.


DaFT activity is historically 3 “shifts” a week (ie. 2 weekday evenings and 1 weekend day) for 2-3 months prior to Flipside, and then a final week of all-out work during construction. As Lead, you will likely be putting in more hours than most on your team. You can reduce your own hourly commitment with good project management, by delegating, and by remembering to take a break. However, expect to commit to at least 15-20 hours per week. Also note that while recent years have allowed DaFT to start on- site build the Saturday before the event, you can only count on starting Tuesday. Earlier arrival must be approved by the Board and the landowner.

Please note that one of the weekly build nights must occur during “Church Night” in order to provide more opportunities for recruitment, as well as help the community feel more connected to the centerpiece of the event. Church Nights originated as a social night that coincided with a build night and can be moved to accommodate the DaFT lead’s schedule if necessary. 


Although sometimes Effigy construction has continued through much of the event, for the sake of yourself, your team, and the citizens of Pyropolis, you should make every effort in your planning to have the build completed by Friday morning- or even before. There are inevitable slowdowns on build (heat, work stoppages for heavy machinery use, etc) and these should be taken into consideration as you make your plans. It’s Texas- with the droughts and heat, rain and floods, wind and hail, it’s obvious she isn’t going to make this easy on you or anyone. 

Please note that on Sunday you and your team will be needed to close the effigy space and assist with burn prep from around noon until burn o’clock.

Constraints: (for consideration & discussion, not required for submittal)


The Board-allocated budget for the Effigy is approximately $10,000. This amount includes everything you need to make it go except power (Pyropolis Power provides generator, light trailer, fuel and heavy equipment for lifting). Be sure to allocate funds for everything you need (transportation to the site, lumber, hardware, accelerants, food, drill bits, etc). 


Remember that pre-building should be complete in the weeks prior to the event, and ideally you should have an early- May test-build to demonstrate structural soundness and hype the community. Weather (and property owner/Board) permitting, DaFT can begin building onsite the weekend prior to the event (during load in weekend), within reason (not more than the first story, for example- the Board will clarify the rules of that weekend directly with the DaFT lead). Everyone must be off land by 5pm Sunday night. DaFT may resume building during early entry (beginning Tuesday).


A height limit of around 30 feet. Above this height, construction danger and expense become prohibitive. We want people to rise to the challenge of being amazing without being massive. Burn perimeter radius will be determined per project and event conditions.


  • Your name and contact information: This submission is for something that you are building. While we understand that not everyone is an expert in every little detail of effigy building, submitters should have a strong understanding of how it will all come together. Who are you and why are you eligible?
  • Inspiration: Why should this get built? How does this speak to Jack and Jill Flipside? How does it tie into the theme?
  • Project Management: You’re the point person, however no one expects you to do it alone. We’re looking for someone who is able to lead a project.
  • Project Plan: Tell us how you plan to make your vision a reality. We are looking for a structural explanation of how the piece is constructed, along with your plan for the build process. You’re the project manager: your team must build it in town, take it apart, move it to the event site, and then build it again on site. Include project milestones that can be used to gauge the build’s progress. Any details regarding the timeline for the onsite build are helpful. Also be sure to include any special cleanup, safety, burn night, or transportation issues that you might foresee. “
  • Detailed items to be considered (not required for submittal)

    1. Safety Plan: Are parts of your design dangerous? How will you keep people from dying on/around it? How will you prevent it from killing people? The safety plan should take into consideration the phases (a) during construction in town, (b) construction on-site, (c) once it is open to participants at the event, and (d) how to safely take it apart, if necessary.
    2. Transportation Plan: Will it fit in a box truck; on a flatbed? Will the pieces be fragile? How will you move the structure and all the tools you will need? What comes home, and in what? There is a transpo lead to help.
    3. Burn Plan: Consider the height and circumference of your design and how it might impact Fire Teams. What special considerations does the Pyropolis Fire Department need to be aware of? What kind of embers will this thing throw? Be prepared to discuss particulars with Safety Teams in order to work together to come up with a really well thought out plan, and to set expectations for all.
    4. Non-Burn Plan: There is always a chance that we will be banned from burning. In case the conditions aren’t safe, what will happen? Consider transformation, deconstruction, re-packing, and transportation back to town. What happens to it afterwards?
    5. Cleanup Plan: What is required to get the burn pad cleared after the burn? As we’ve learned year after year, it’s near-impossible to get folks to stay to clean. Know any people who go to the event but don’t break themselves after a week in the Texas summer? These are your new best friends.


    Assume you have up to ~$10,000 to use on this project, from start to finish. What will you spend it on? This needs to be itemized and as realistic as you can estimate (call around for quotes). It’s wise to leave 10-15% of your budget for unforeseen expenses. How will you maintain your balance sheet throughout the project?

    1. Materials: Everything you will need to build, transport, and burn the project needs to be listed in your budget. Include construction materials, (lumber, fasteners, widgets), tools, electrical, gas, plumbing, fuel, etc.
    2. Rentals: Do you need to rent any equipment to do this? Lifts, scaffolding, fancy tools? What are they, where do you get them, and what do they cost?  Although heavy equipment rental charges are covered under Site Ops (machinery rental is shared between DaFT and the needs of the event), less is more. Please consider this cost before you make certain design decisions.
    3. Food: The DaFT lead should use a portion of the budget to cover food costs for DaFTies during the build onsite, for the few days that is covered. It is recommended to task a responsible DaFTie to be in charge of the DaFT kitchen since this can be a rather large task.


    May include scale drawings, sections, charts, diagrams, details, models, or whatever it takes to get the idea across of what it is you would like to build.

    Addenda (creative considerations)

    The following were major items that the community has identified over the years as what they want to see in an effigy, and will be considered heavily in the proposals.

    1. Finished by Friday at Flipside: The desire is for the effigy to be “open” and approachable by the community by Friday morning. It may still need some work done, but it should no longer be a construction zone by that time. Ideally.
    2. Community involvement: This goes beyond just making the effigy interactive, although that is a large part of this; the more people that can be involved, the better. DaFT has often been a place for people to learn skills in a variety of areas. It is a challenge to do this efficiently and safely, but the more people that can say, “I helped make that,” the better.
    3. Non-toxic burn: Wiring, metal, plastic, etc. should be removable/minimal for the burn. The goal is as little environmental nastiness as possible.
    4. Test Build: We want to see this thing together once before its final arrival on site. This allows for those damn things that always come up at the last minute to be dealt with in a more controlled environment. Ideally, this would happen near the first of May. Previous DaFT leads have created a model of the warehouse space for anyone to use to plot and plan, if you would like to use it.
    5. Possessing a consumable aspect: While we believe that an effigy that is mostly consumable by fire is an important aspect of the event, we also know that the artists in our community work in many different media. As it has been proven that we can have a fabulous and meaningful UnBurn, we do not want to exclude any proposal purely on the basis that it is not largely consumable by fire (read: fire is good, but it doesn’t have to burn down in the traditional way).
    6. Community Ownership: we will not consider using the community money earmarked for the effigy to fund, either partially or fully, a project that is intended for any final purpose other than its destruction at Flipside (or Catalyst Collective -approved community event).

    Send your questions and proposal to daft-proposal@lists.burningflipside.com. Happy designing!


    The DaFT Proposal Review Committee and Catalyst Collective

    DaFT Lead & Effigy Proposal


    Inspiration and Project Summary:

    Why should this be built? How does it relate to the theme? What makes it special? How does this effigy fulfill guidelines and recommendations?

    Project Management Summary:

    How will you divide up the process? Who are your lieutenants?

    Project Plan/Schedule:

    Try including a project calendar – the more detail the better!

    Include any considerations for:

    1. Safety
    2. Transportation
    3. Burn
    4. Non-Burn
    5. Cleanup
    6. Budget
    7. Materials
    8. Rentals
    9. Other

    Attachments: Visuals/model/drawings/etc


    1. Send your questions or proposal to daft-proposal@lists.burningflipside.com we will be happy to assist you in creating your proposal!
    2. Be available to meet with the Selection Panel and/or Catalyst Collective during the submission/selection period. You may proactively meet with all or part of the Panel for advice, guidance, questions, etc.