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How to Roll Better Round Fireworks Stars




This is another wonderful jewel, which I lifted right out of the Pyrotechnic Mailing List. John Vico wrote it and graciously gave us permission to reprint it here. If you're just learning to make fireworks, and/or you're new to rolling firework stars, read this. It is a huge help.

--Harry Gilliam

I would like to offer a few tips for starting round firework stars:

Many of you are using small amounts of material which does in fact make it more difficult.

So be it, but adapt accordingly. My best "bowls"... an aluminum wok and/or its cover.

  1. Use tiny heavy firework star cores i.e. #7 lead shot. (I never found the initial clay coating to help. It's just an extra step) Millet, rape seed, acine de pepe are all good second choices but save them until you've got the technique a little practiced. Never thought of using the silver candy toppings but they seem a little big. You'd be better off researching how they are made and adapt the technique to firework star cores for those bright little color flashes at the center of a nice charcoal firework star.

  2. A small mister is essential. The best one is the small cosmetic type that fits easily in the palm of one hand and sprays a minimal amount of perfume (in our case solvent) from a single downward pump of the button. Aim well; hit the firework star cores not the pan, roll fast in a small area of the pan.

  3. Shake the firework star composition in from a baby powder can or like: again aim well, small amounts. Some of the plastic cans that allow you to squeeze out a "puff" of powder are ideal.

  4. A minimal build up of powder on the bottom of the bowl is okay especially if your bowl is very smooth which causes the firework stars to slide more than roll especially when you are first starting the cores. Add small amounts of dry firework star composition until no more cores pick up firework star composition when working in a small area of the pan then shift the firework star cores to another area of the pan and keep them rolling. If everything is right you should be able to stop briefly without the firework star cores sticking together badly, otherwise add a little more firework star composition. Roll fast and add another spritz on the firework star cores from the mister. Keep going fast for equal coating and to keep them from sticking together. Don't be in a hurry to add firework star composition it encourages the raspberries. Too much moisture? Then work a larger area of the pan to get rid of some but when your are ready to add firework star composition try and stay in a small area then move out as things get coated.

  5. "Toro paste" is available on the bottom of your bowl in one of the areas where firework star composition has stuck to it. Work the firework stars out to an area where everything is good and they are not sticking to each other. Stop and with good aim spray the stuck firework star composition. Work it with your gloved fingertip into syrup, especially around the edges of the stuck firework star composition. Roll fast again and pass the firework stars through this area. They should pick up the syrup nicely and be ready for a little dusting of dry firework star composition. If they are sticking together roll and bump really fast and add a little more firework star composition on a "virgin" area of your bowl.

  6. In general roll fast and hard when firework stars are wet and sticky. Bump if needed.

  7. If you really get too much firework star composition stuck to the bowl, scrape with a spatula and use it to make cut firework stars.

  8. Size the firework stars frequently on hardware cloth returning the ones that pass through to the bowl.

  9. If you get a clump of firework stars that you really want to save, the best way to separate them is with the point of a needle. Good luck.

These tips are for starting small amounts of small firework star cores. As things grow, so does the technique and tools. That's when the machines are most helpful.

--John

Materials Needed
  • Firework Star composition
  • Large bowl
  • Lead shot
  • Mister
  • Needle
  • Plastic gloves
  • Powder can
  • Spatula
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