5″ Ball Shell Workshop – Part I, Group 4

Session Photo

Tent 2 | Workshop

February 17, 2023, 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM

Presented by: Mike Garrett, Jim Widmann, Tom Sklebar

Max Attendance: 10 Class Fee: $25

Have you ever wanted to build a round ball shells? Then this workshop is a good place to start.  This workshop will teach you how to make your own 5” paper ball shell. Working with experienced shell builders, you will get hands-on knowledge that will guide you in building a ball shell that looks and performs just like the pros.  There are three workshop parts: The first part, ‘Introduction to Ball Shells’, has a tutorial, demonstration and Q&A. That is followed by Part II for the assembly and wrapping of your shell. A fleet of WASP machines will be used to expedite this procedure. The shell is then dried overnight.  On the following day, in the third session, you will apply the lift and leader to the shell.  Your shell can be fired that night on the B-line in a special area just for us.

Session Prerequisites: Introduction to Ballshells

Additional Session Information
Beginner Friendly
PPE Required
Age 18+


About Presenters

Mike Garrett

Mike has been intrigued by the beauty and ephemeral nature of fireworks for as long as he can remember. However, until 2009 it never occurred to him that anyone could legally make their own fireworks as a hobby. At that time, he discovered two fireworks clubs that changed everything about the way he viewed fireworks and began his journey as a fireworks maker. Those clubs were the Western Pyrotechnic Association (WPA) and Pyrotechnic Guild International (PGI). Mike uses his background in physics and engineering as a foundation to make traditional and not-so-traditional fireworks. He thinks fireworks is the perfect blend of science, technology, engineering, art, and math to express his creative visions. He strongly believes that education will preserve the art of fireworks and make it safer for the hobbyist to participate. You will often find Mike teaching or facilitating educational seminars and workshops related to fireworks at club events. Don’t get him talking about fireworks unless you have an hour to burn.

Jim Widmann

Jim Widmann is a long-time fireworks enthusiast and professional. Jim has shot shows for most of the fireworks companies in the Northeast US and in 1985 started a fireworks display company based in Connecticut. He was a founding member and president of the Connecticut Pyrotechnics Association.
As a kid, July 5th was Jim’s favorite day of the year because he would find leftover dud fireworks from the neighborhood displays and cobble them together into something new and of his own making. Jim is a 30+ year member of the PGI and has competed and won in many of the display shell categories. He has a CT display operator’s license and is also licensed in CT as a pyrotechnic manufacturer. Jim is widely known as the inventor of the WASP automatic shell pasting machine and has sold hundreds of these machines in over 22 countries. In recent years, Jim has successfully built and shot world record shells (up to 62”) in North America and the Middle East.

Tom Sklebar

Tom started helping his father dynamite rocks as a kid almost 60 years ago. He is a hobbyist pyro who has built various devices for some time starting in the 1990’s. A member of PGI, WPA, FPAG, Northern Lighters, WPAG. For his usual private 4th of July show he builds lance work, gerbs, mines, rockets, wheel, saxons, tourbillions, girandola, comets, ball shells from 3 – 12″, Maltese single and multibreak shells, Italian single and multibreak shells and various other articles pyrotechnic. Tom has taught or helped at workshops and seminars for some years now (as well as neighbors and their children and now grandchildren)

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