2017 Convention - Gerry Gits Challenge - Victorian

In the past the Gerry Gits challenge was often defined in a sentence or two. To widen the window of creativity and to make the challenge attemptable by many more participants, the challenge title was reduced to one or two words. The 2017 Gerry Gits challenge is "Victorian".

The Victorian era was the period British history spanning the 64 years of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain which focused on the highly artistic and embellished geometric motifs.

The use of fireworks was a major part of many public entertainments and a crowning feature of elaborate government celebrations. Fire and water were important aspects of court spectacles and they inspired by means of fire, sudden noise, and smoke. Their general magnificence magnified the sentiments thought fitting for entertaining the sovereign: awe, fear and a vicarious sense of glory. Thus, batteries of rockets filled the air while geometric forms created from cross angled fountains and wheels graced the grounds.

FFirework devices were pushed to their limit using only golden and silver rain, plumes, flares, and sparks with volumes of smoke. These silver and gold sparks came from the use of every known powdered metal and metal alloy at the time, including gold! (Note that advances in chemistry allowed the production of a full pallet of pyrotechnic colors during the Victorian period.)

Their ground pieces included such geometrical devices as the Chromatrope Wheel, the Saxon Diamond, the Jeweled Fan, the Mosaic Rosette, the revolving Jeweled Circle, the Peruvian Glory, the Lattice Poles, plus any common structure that had a charming geometric form. Those of the private citizenry who did not expect the Queen's invitation to celebrations usually followed the available book: The Art of Making Fireworks (revised 1813), which allowed the people to create their own fireworks displays. By carefully following the step-by-step instructions for refining saltpeter to produce gunpowder, enterprising readers could fashion their own sky-rockets, flaming stars, Chinese fountains, roman-candle fuming balls of fire, and even brilliant fiery wheels.

A participant in the Gerry Gits challenge need not produce a dramatic multi-device display to show off the Victorian presence. One need only make a single, but outstanding geometrical ground piece to bring the crowd back to its ancestral heritage with the much heard oohs and aahs. Just think of the almost unlimited array of fanciful devices you can create using Victorian chemistry. Go ahead, design a Victorian pyro and enter it into the 2017 Gerry Gits Challenge.


The PGI competition team lost a very special member on Christmas Eve, 2007 with the passing of Chief Judge Gerry Gits. To honor Gerry's manifold contributions to the PGI competitions over the years as competitor, judge, and most recently chief judge, the judges have decided to rename the Judges Challenge competition as the Gerry Gits Challenge, and the prize to be the Gerry Gits Memorial Trophy.

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