conspiracy theories, craft projects for lifers

All that glitters is not gold…sometimes it’s aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate

I wish my life could be / As strange as a conspiracy   Felt “Primitive Painters”



It’s a new year and time to try something new, so I thought I’d delve into a conspiracy theory.

I usually avoid conspiracy babble and internet rumormongering like the plague.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to all mongering.

Who doesn’t love getting fresh seafood from a fishmonger, for example.  And I love a schmear, but only on a bagel.

But this conspiracy, I heard mentioned on NPR, what could be more respectable, on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and it seems like a scintillating topic.

This particular mad machination or rumor has apparently been floating around, glistening, shiny-but-senseless, since around since 2018 but I just learned of it.

Here it is.  Apparently, people keep asking, “Is there a shortage of glitter,” and “Who is buying up all the glitter.”

I investigated this exhaustively, for as long as it took to duck into a craft store and ascertain that there is not a shortage.

Let’s get this part out of the way.  What is glitter exactly?

Some of it is still made from good old mica – – the shiny flecks & flakes you see in granite, schist, etc.

The manufactured kind is aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.  I’m guessing all of you already knew that, because unlike the psychotic persistence of glitter on your tongue or in your eye, “aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate” just trips off your tongue, doesn’t it.   And it’s listed on your tubes of eye shadow, nail polish, shimmer powder, highlighter, pearl powder, etc.

The December 21, 2018 NY Times carried an article by Caitie Weaver “What is Glitter?  A strange journey to the glitter factory.”

Glitter turns out to be a surprisingly fascinating topic – – there’s holographic vs iridescent, mylar “metalized” with aluminum, polymers with different refractive indexes, etc.

The aluminum is evaporated in a vacuum chamber — I’ve never noticed aluminum evaporating, didn’t know it did that!

Sweat, the Great Salt Lake, my bank account – – yes, aluminum – – no.

For someone like me, with only the most tenuous grasp of science, it all sounds pretty high tech, science-y and mysterious.

I wonder how the Reynolds Wrap people foil such a loss of aluminum?

Scientists, of course, want to ban this glitter stuff – the smallest versions are 50 x70 microns, so it’s another hideous micro-plastic to pollute the planet, with literally a thousand year lifespan.

But anyways, back to the conspiracy theory.  During the interviews for the NY Times, a company rep refused to reveal which buyer or industry was the largest consumer.

So we’re free to speculate!  Who is buying up all the glitter??

I’ve limited myself to four theories but please feel free to contribute.

1.   A powerful organization called the Glitterati has recruited Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey for a huge glam rock festival, and will pump enough glitter into Madison Square Garden to make it the world’s biggest snow globe.

David Bowie isn’t really dead and will show up in his Ziggy Stardust character and bring his own brand of disco dust.

2.  Snow Globes.  The current dearth of snow in some parts of the country has created a yearning for snow globes, like the one in Citizen Kane.

(These globes were invented in the 19th c. by an Austrian maker of surgical instruments and were originally called Schneekugel, which is just extremely pleasant-sounding, I find myself saying it out loud, sometimes when I’m riding an elevator, and then people look at me funny.)

3.  Elon Musk is loading it onto hundreds of SpaceX rockets and will spread it in the upper atmosphere, forming a reflective layer to slow global warming.

4.  Glitter is produced by unicorns when they eat too many candy canes and suffer from fairyland flatulence. And just like my kitchen, the Clean Up Elves are on strike.

Anyway, the whole thing is a false alarm.  If there really was a shortage, a really thorough vacuuming of any home with kids and every preschool would produce tons of the stuff, cemented to sticky old graham cracker crumbs so it can be used for both decoration and dessert toppings.

Enough.  Have you heard this rumor?  Any theories?