The Art of Fireworks: Inhibitors and Moderators

Session Photo

Tent 1 | Seminar

February 19, 2023, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Presented by: Joel Baechle

It’s what’s in the middle that counts!

Everyone that experiments with fireworks knows about fuels and oxidizers, what they do, and what can be added to improve or enhance the performance. But how many have tried to modify the quality of the presentation? An artist and a housepainter both use a brush, but the devil is in the details. A look at variations in formulas and containment will show that pyrotechnists have paid attention to control functions since the beginning. Military formulations are often finely tuned for specific purposes, and civilian products, while more oriented to profitability and ease of manufacture, still follow the same logic.

Did you know that road flares for use by the Colorado Highway Patrol are formulated differently than those used in Florida? What about a yellow star that looks good at sea level but is almost white in the desert or at low winter temperatures? These questions and many more will be discussed, and there may be more than one answer. It is impossible to cover a subject this big in a short review, but hopefully it will encourage open-minded research and new creative efforts.

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About Presenters

Joel Baechle

Joel Baechle has been involved in pyrotechnics since 1970 when he did his first fireworks display. He started out working at a fireworks stand on the state line and gradually found his way into the proximate pyrotechnics and special effects field, where he continues to innovate today. He tries as best as possible to inspire the creative elements of pyrotechnic progress, the cornerstone of this effort being his 1989 monograph, Pyrocolor Harmony: A Designer’s Guide. The purpose of this is to encourage a vision of pyrotechnics that is more artistic and less mechanical in order to bolster its reputation in the face of increasing regulatory issues. He remains committed to a multi-dimensional, American vision of fireworks presentation, rather than a “DJ” approach of launching imports to music. He has a B.A. degree in Sociology, and maintains a keen interest in the evolution of the arts in society through this season of rapid change, especially through the progress of multimedia entertainment. In other words, pyrotechnics should keep pace with changes in lighting design and entertainment presentation, and not become an artifact of the analog era. His wife Barbara has supported him in this difficult field for over 30 years, and their three sons are all involved in music and art as well. He resides in Northern California

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