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 residing 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 young women. It sparkles like pure precision-minimize starlight on an ornament of a North American brown bear driving a automotive 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 car sellerships, and each sort of office — and outside those places, too — it shines. It glitters. It is glitter.

What is glitter? The best answer is one that can leave you slightly unsatisfied, but no less than along with your confidence in comprehending basic physical properties intact. Glitter is made from glitter. Big glitter begets smaller glitter; smaller glitter gets everywhere, all glitter is unattainable to remove; now never ask this query again.

Humans, even humans who don’t like glitter, like glitter. We are drawn to shiny things in the same wild manner our ancestors had been overcome by a compulsion to forage for honey. A theory that has discovered favor amongst analysis psychologists (supported, in part, by a research that monitored babies’ enthusiasm for licking plates with shiny finishes) is that our attraction to sparkle is derived from an innate need to seek out contemporary water.

Glitter as a contactable product — or more accurately, an assemblage of touchable products ("glitter" is a mass noun; specifically, it's a granular combination, 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 both observe something’s glitter (the glitter of glass), or hold something that glittered (like, say, ground up glass). Tinsel, which has existed for centuries, does not turn into glitter when reduce into small pieces. It becomes "bits of tinsel." The tiny, shiny, ornamental particles of glitter we're accustomed to in the present day are popularly believed to have originated on a farm in New Jersey within the Thirties, when a German immigrant invented a machine to cut scrap material into extremely small pieces. (Curiously, he did not start filing patents for machines that lower foil into what he called "slivers" till 1961.) The particular events that led to the initial dispersal of glitter are nebulous; in true glitter fashion, unexpectedly, it was simply everywhere.

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