There are two main factions in the world of pyrotechnics: shell builders and thump junkies.
Shell builders spend hours or even days on end designing the composition of their fireworks. They meticulously plan every facet of the explosion: from the shape, colour and look of the flames in the sky. They host displays mimicking the shapes of palm trees, diadems, hearts, smileys and even names across the sky, treating it like a canvass where their skills shine for all to see.
Then there are thump junkies who don’t give a flying [expletive] about any of that artsy-glitz, and are only interested in building the loudest, noisiest, most deafening and booming devices known to pyrodom.
Every year, there are fireworks conventions that attract fireworks enthusiasts from all over the world. It is the only time shell builders and thump junkies actually get to rub elbows, and it’s safe to say they don’t care much for each other.
Salute You, or Not
The devices thump junkies use to deliver their loud bangs are called salutes. Salutes aren’t that hard to build, requiring only the appropriate ingredients and a fuse. The most notorious salute is called the Gabe Morte or the dead head. It’s a sack of mixed chemicals hung from a scaffold at the height of man’s head. The attached fuse is lit, and the sack produces an enormously loud noise. The Gabe Morte was once a popular way of ending fireworks displays, but has fallen out of favour with the populace for obvious reasons.
Art and Mess
It’s very easy to make a salute, but also very dangerous, as it requires people to stand an arm’s length from extremely sensitive chemicals that have the kick of a war cannon. On the other hand, shell building requires years of experience and artistry. The construction of a single shell takes the colour, pattern, and size of the explosions into account, and every shell needs to complement the dozens of other shells in the display. There’s a lot science involved in shell building; mainly chemistry, physics and geometry, and it takes years to become good at it.
Regardless of whether they love sound or sight, there’s one thing shell builders and thump junkies have in common (even if they don’t want to admit it). They both love creating fireworks, and that’s something everyone can understand.
So the next time you shop around for fireworks for sale, think if you want just the bang or the complete package.