Serpents for garnishing rockets and firepots have cases made from playing cards. Those formed from one card have 3 lines of interior diameter; from two cards, 3 1/2 lines; from three cards, 4 lines. Those of large diameter should be made of pasteboard. (Pl. II, figs. 18 and 19.)

The serpents having 3 lines of diameter are loaded to a height a little short of the rim of the case, as follows:

The cases are first choked and tied, and are then arranged upright in any convenient vessel that will contain the required number.

A small wadding of paper is packed down into each, in order to close the vent in the choke, and a measure of powder is then poured in, which should fill the case half full. The composition is next added above the powder, and the surface of this is brushed even with the rim of the case. When all the cases have been thus filled, a loading stick of the proper size is used, and the contents are tamped down by eight blows of the mallet to each case. The operation is repeated until all are solidly filled to a height of almost 4 lines. The remaining space is reserved for choking. The cases are next taken from the containing vessel and choked. The throat is then opened by introducing the point of that base which fits them. A piece of fuse is introduced into the hole and fastened with priming paste.

Serpents of two cards, and of three, are charged on a base carrying a point, of which the length is one and one-quarter times the interior diameter of the case, and of which the thickness is one-third of the same diameter. In loading these, ten strokes are given to each successive charge. The artificer begins by loading them half full with the composition. Then grain powder is introduced, with a wadding on top of it. They are then choked and primed in the fashion already described for the smaller size. When it is desired that the serpents be exceptionally lively in the air, they are charged on a piercer having a height three and one-half times the interior diameter of the case, and having a thickness one-third of the same diameter. These are used especially for the pots a aigrettes. (PL II, figs. 18, 19, and 20.)

Plate II.

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For a rain of fire, small pieces of paper are molded on an iron rod 2 1/2 lines in diameter. These have a length of 2 1/2 inches, and they are not choked. It suffices, after the load has been placed, to twist the end of the case, and then to tap it tightly with a mallet in order to fix the folds in position. The cases are then filled by being dipped into the composition. They receive as much of it as is necessary for each charge in succession, and after they have been fully charged they are primed without choking. The effect of this garniture is to fill the air with undulating fires.

Marrons are made of grain powder inclosed in a pasteboard case of cubical form, which is covered with one or two windings of string held firmly by glue. A hole is pierced in one of the corners, wherein a fuse enters, held fast by priming paste. (PL II, fig. 22.)

In order to cut the pasteboard exactly, which should form a perfect cube from a single piece, the worker draws his design by using a plane-tatile. This design is divided into 15 squares, 5 on one side and 3 on the other. This parallelogram is separated by scissors into 5 squares, each of which is folded to form a cube. (PL VII, fig. 1.)

Plate VII.

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The size of the marrons is proportioned to that of the pasteboard from which the cases are formed and that of the string used to cover them. Sparkling marrons differ from the others only in being covered with star paste and then rolled in powder, which serves for priming. Two bands of paper fastened over them in the form of a cross retain this paste in position, and prevent it from peeling off when dry.

Saucissons do not differ from marrons, except in shape. Their effect is precisely the same. They have round cases, with a height four times that of their exterior diameter. After choking, a rather large wadding of paper is rammed within. They are then charged with grain powder, over which a similar wadding is placed. This wadding, however, is compressed under the pressure of the hand, care being taken to avoid crushing the powder. The upper end is then choked, and any excess length of the case beyond the two chokings is trimmed off. The cases are now covered with two windings of string, made fast with glue, as for the mar-rons. They are pierced at one end, and primed at that point.

These are used often to terminate with a report certain fireworks, such as lances and others, which, owing to their small volume and the thinness of their cases, can not carry sufficient powder or make sufficient resistance to explode noisily. (PL III, fig. 4.)

Plate III.

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Stars are made from a paste composed of:


1 pound.


8 ounces.


4 ounces.

These materials, after they have been passed three times through a screen, in order to mix them thoroughly, are moistened with water. When they have reached the consistence of a rather thick paste, they are covered with a tin mold, which shapes a round, flat pastille, pierced in the center. This hole is formed by a small iron point running from the center of the mold's handle. The mold has a depth of four lines, which measures also the thickness of the star formed by it, and a width of seven lines. (PL IV, figs. 10 and 11.)

Plate IV.

Serpents And Other Garnitures 1006

After each star is shaped, it is pushed to one side by the handle of the mold, and slid carefully on a sheet of paper. When the stars are dry, a piece of fuse is laid over them, as they lie slightly separated in sets of six. The fuse is then cut at these points of separation, and the ends are fastened with priming on the first and sixth star of each set.

The stars have commonly a diameter of 7 lines and a thickness of 4 lines, in the proportions above given for the mold. Larger stars have less effect, because they fall too low.

Crackling stars (etoiles a pet) are small saucissons having an exceptionally long throat, which is filled with star paste.