Dazzling, fiery designs are a relatively new phenomenon with firework shows. We used to be captivated by the simplicity and grandiose display of fireworks of the past. As time has gone by, our taste and desires to be awed have evolved as well. Today, awe-inspiring displays are becoming more common in fantastic firework shows, leaving audiences with a sense of childhood wonder.

But how did these intricate designs come to exist and how do they work? Alamo Fireworkswill take a closer look at the evolution of these stunning displays.

Before we begin diving into the technicalities of design, we have to know which fireworks we’re working with and how they function.

The designs of today comes down to the construction of the aerial shells, or commonly called artillery shells, we use. The shells, typically spherical in shape, explode symmetrically and utilize pyrotechnic pellets, or exploding stars, to achieve their mesmerizing effect.

The combustible pyrotechnic pellets make up the firework’s dots, which when ignited, jettison into the air and burst into their wondrous display.

For patterned fireworks, the key is in the construction. Cardboard inserted into the shell during its creation allows the exploding stars to be arranged in a pattern that forces the pellets to explode outward in that pattern. Sometimes, manufacturers will use multi-break shells that utilize different compartments inside of the aerial shell. Placed and fused in a specific order, the multi-break shells will explode sequentially to create the recognizable pattern and shapes in the sky.

How did they come to be? Well in truth, no one person is officially recognized as the creator of patterned fireworks. They’re thought to have originated as a joint effort between different firework manufacturers, likely from China–the world’s largest creator and exporter of fiery festivities.

The first and most notable use of patterned pyrotechnics was in the early 1990s to greet Desert Storm troops returning home from their deployment. “The patterns that were used there were purple hearts and yellow bows,” recalled Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association in an interview with Live Science.

Though they seem mysterious and wondrous, patterned fireworks are becoming common themes in today’s mesmerizing shows. As the march of pyrotechnic progress continues, there’s sure to be a flurry of new, dazzling innovations that will improve on the ancient festivity, instilling us with that child sense of wonder they always seem to leave.

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