Colored Gerbs

Written by Harry Gilliam

Topics: How to Make Fireworks

In Making Gerbs (Firework Fountains)I described a method for making homemade fountains, called gerbs, including how to make the tools for ramming them. In Using Homemade Gerbs Creatively I explored a few creative devices using fountains.

Homemade Silver-Titanium Fountain

Homemade Silver-Titanium Fountain

I was ready to move on from gerbs, but then I received a note from Paul N, a loyal Skylighter customer. In his letter, he began by referring to his homemade waterfall, in which he used consumer fountains, a trick I described in Consumer Fireworks Display: Firework Waterfall, Firecracker and Star Set Pieces.

In part, Paul said:


“I used a tube fountain from a local C shop and using rebar tie wire to hang them between two trees in my front yard, and the superfast paper firecracker fuse I got with the Skylighter mortar tubes special, the thing TOOK OFF and was brilliant. 20 feet of BRILLIANT! As they burned out, a secondary fuse lit some suspended large “colored flowers” firecrackers which just ROARED. It was a serious crowd pleaser. Even now I am still jazzed, and you can tell Mr. Gilliam I said so. Now that I have that concept down, I want to make a curtain of color, and I need to get or make RED and BLUE fountains (er, gerbs.) I have, as they say, an idea. Can you tell me of formulae for making red and blue gerb comp?”

I of course did not relay this message to Harry, lest he get an even bigger head about the service he provides to us pyro fanatics. I could sure relate to Paul’s enthusiasm and inspiration. How often I have felt that same way.

I have never seen colored consumer fountains at local shops that might be used in the way that Paul envisions.

I like to use colored fountains as one of the stages in devices like wheels and girandolas (horizontal flying wheels). Just recently I was giving some more thought to homemade colored gerbs, and had dug out a past PGI Bulletin article by John Glasswick, entitled Gerb Colours.

John is a friend of mine and a master pyro craftsman, his gerbs and wheels are something to see. We see one another just once a year at the PGI conventions, and we have often competed against each other with our wheels or ground displays. It has been no disgrace to have him beat me in a competition, and it’s been a real honor the few times I’ve edged him out in points.

John Helping Ned Prepare a 24-Inch Girandola for Flight at the 2007 PGI Convention in Fargo, North Dakota

John Helping Ned Prepare a 24-Inch Girandola for Flight at the 2007 PGI Convention in Fargo, North Dakota

John hails from Canada, and spells words funny, like colour and splendour, but we won’t hold that against him. He graciously allowed me to use the information in his article as the foundation for this one. In that essay, John relates that he got many favorable (favourable) comments about the colors of his gerbs one year at the convention, along with quite a few requests for his formulae.

John started with a favorite red formula that had been shared by Tom DeWille on the Pyrotechnic Mailing List several years back. This red formula was slightly modified to create the other colors, with one exception; blue.

The blue composition came from Joel Baechle’s Pyrocolor Harmony, to which John added 15 parts titanium for sparks. About that book, John states, “I found Joel’s book well worth purchasing, and the book has also been invaluable for me for star colour formulas.”

Note: There is another nifty blue gerb formula and method described by Mr. Gilliam in the Fireworks Tips #52 article, Blue Steel Gerbe.

So, rather than quickly moving on from the subject of gerbs, why don’t we spend one more week on them, and explore color gerbs.

Continue Reading: Colored Gerbs…

2 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. JZH1000 says:

    I want to try this. I am not aiming for height or sound but great colors. In the video it looked great!

  2. Shaggyman says:

    I just tested one of the Blue Steel Gerbs (from Issue #52), constructed per Harry’s method, and I must say I am disappointed- the color was good, but it only threw sparks about eight feet, not much more energetic than a charcoal based gerb. I had expected more like 30 feet or so.
    All the chemicals were recently purchased from Skylighter, and milled, screened and mixed per SOP.
    Has anyone else tried these?
    Do anything different?

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