What Is Glitter?

What Is Glitter?

Each December, surrounded by wonderlands of white paper snowflakes, brilliant red winterberries, and forests of green conifers reclaiming their ancestral territory from inside the nation’s dwelling rooms and hotel lobbies, children and adults delight to see the true harbinger of the holidays: aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.

Aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate settles over store home windows like dazzling frost. It flashes like sizzling, molten gold across the nail plates of younger women. It sparkles like pure precision-minimize starlight on an ornament of a North American brown bear driving a automobile towing a camper van. Certainly, in Clement Clarke Moore’s seminal Christmas Eve poem, the eyes of Saint Nicholas himself are said to twinkle like aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate (I’m paraphrasing). In homes and malls and schools and synagogues and banks and hospitals and fire stations and hardware stores and breweries and automobile dealerships, and each form of office — and outside those places, too — it shines. It glitters. It is glitter.

What is glitter? The best answer is one that can depart you slightly unhappy, however at the least along with your confidence in comprehending primary physical properties intact. Glitter is made from glitter. Big glitter begets smaller glitter; smaller glitter gets everywhere, all glitter is unimaginable to remove; now by no means ask this query again.

Humans, even humans who don’t like glitter, like glitter. We're drawn to shiny things in the identical wild approach our ancestors had been overcome by a compulsion to forage for honey. A concept that has discovered favor amongst analysis psychologists (supported, in part, by a study that monitored babies’ enthusiasm for licking plates with shiny finishes) is that our attraction to sparkle is derived from an innate want to seek out recent water.

Glitter as a touchable product — or more appropriately, an assemblage of contactable products ("glitter" is a mass noun; specifically, it's a granular mixture, like "rice") — is an invention so latest it’s barely defined. The Oxford English Dictionary principally concerns itself with explaining glitter as an intangible type of sparkly light. Till the invention within the 20th century of the fashionable craft substance, one might either observe something’s glitter (the glitter of glass), or hold something that glittered (like, say, ground up glass). Tinsel, which has existed for centuries, doesn't turn out to be glitter when minimize into small pieces. It turns into "bits of tinsel." The tiny, shiny, ornamental particles of glitter we are accustomed to right this moment are popularly believed to have originated on a farm in New Jersey in the Nineteen Thirties, when a German immigrant invented a machine to cut scrap material into extraordinarily small pieces. (Curiously, he didn't start filing patents for machines that lower foil into what he called "slivers" until 1961.) The precise events that led to the initial dispersal of glitter are nebulous; in true glitter fashion, impulsively, it was merely everywhere.

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