Fun with Frederick & Fleming – Special PGI Edition – Science of Fireworks

In this week’s special edition of Fun With Frederick and Fleming, we had Linda Westfall, a past Grand Champion of Fireworks building walk us through making fireworks, a basic 5″ ball shell

According to Linda, “You build one by starting with two hemispheres. Now this is the basic 5″, 5″ is the diameter of the mortar that it is going to go down into. So this is actually a little chemistry, physics and some art thrown in for fun, and the different combinations of colors, and glitters and things like that.”

“Just to show you stars, stars are the part that are burning that fall from the sky and make the colors. There are basically three different kinds of stars. This is a rolled star. I have some sample stars here and you just, because you want that nice round ball, you literally move these so that it lines the outside of the shell.”

“I have this one already done, but I will demonstrate. You take a piece of tissue paper and put it in the middle here, and this is going to separate the break from the stars. Rice hulls and you just fill the center in.”

“You put it on the corner of the table and you just tap and turn and you literally just tape around until it is closed.”

“That’s called a wasp. It is actually just a taping machine and what that’s going to do is keep the pressure in the shell. You want it to hesitate for just a second, because you want to make sure everything is lit really good before it explodes out.”

“One of the questions I get a lot, is how do you make the smiley faces? You fill this up and you literally place the stars exactly in the smiley face pattern in the shell. Now it is only this big, but again every star is hit with exactly the same force so that little tiny smiley face here becomes that great big smiley face in the sky, because every star will move with the same amount of force with the same distance.”

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