Cellophane in Surprising Places

cellophane_page12_suit

Woman wearing a bathing suit partially made out of cellophane, 1950 (Series VII, Box 7, Folder 5 ‘Uses of Cellophane’, DuPont Company Product Information photographs (Accession 1972.341), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

 

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Cellophane offered as a way to make gifts even more special, 1949 (Series I, Box 43, Folder 27, ‘Advertising tearsheets – 1949’, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Advertising Department records (Accession 1803), Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

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Picture of a “cellophane doll” readers of the Salt Lake Telegram could make for their holiday parties. Printed december 7, 1950.

Both producers and consumers found unique, and some unexpected, ways to use cellophane. As early as the 1920s, homemakers and retail stores caught on to cellophane’s decorative possibilities. It provided consumer products with a heightened sense of quality and refinement, so why could it not do the same thing with gifts and decorations? Cellophane adorned gift boxes and presents, and newspapers and magazine contained numerous tips and tricks for making creative party and holiday-themed decorations. Helen Glissmeyer, a columnist who provided homemaking tips to readers of the Salt Lake Telegram, offered this tip to spruce up a child’s holiday party: “A pert little miss (doll) that is unusual and inexpensive can be made with cellophane and a bit of clever artistry…what a gay little party ‘twill be when this pert little miss made of cellophane adorns your table center. Children will surely love her.”[1]

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A building in front a new jewelry store was wrapped in cellophane with a big ribbon around it for its grand in Alexandria, Virginia, 1950 (Series VII, Box 7, Folder 5 ‘Uses of Cellophane’, DuPont Company Product Information photographs (Accession 1972.341), Audiovisual Collections and Digital Initiatives Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

Businesses used cellophane decorations as part of marketing stunts. In the image shown on the left, you can see the entrance of a new store wrapped end to end in cellophane prior to its grand opening.[2] One real estate agent even wrapped an entire newly built home in cellophane.[3] Doctors discovered medical uses for cellophane beyond bandages, such as artificial ear cartilage and patches for arteries. Breweries experimented with the film as a tool to filter and clarify beer.[4] Women found different ways to use cellophane around the home; in a section of the Kingston Daily Freeman titled “Kitchen Tricks with Cellophane,” it was suggested that housewives “try cellophane for lining cake pans, sifting flour, as a tray cover, or a greaseproof wall protector…It’s ideal, too, for lining shelves, drawers and boxes, including your bread box, and even your garbage can.”[5]

Fashion designers blended cellophane into the fabric of clothing including dresses, bathing suits, and the brims of hats, and home decorators wove cellophane into drapery to give it a sparkling shine.[6] Through the imagination of cellophane users, the thin, flexible film took on many new functions over time that extended far beyond what Brandenberger and DuPont originally dreamed.

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Cellophane blended with other fabric materials offered homemakers a way give their drapes a glossy shine or sparkle. From 1935 summer edition of the DuPont Magazine (Published Collections Department, Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807).

 

XII. Time to Wrap This Up⇒


[1] The Kokomo Tribune, 1954; Helen Glissmeyer, “Let Your Centerpiece Say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Salt Lake Telegram, December 7, 1950; Bedford Gazette, January 4, 1951; Elma Waltner, “Novel Christmas Decorations Are Easily Made of Colored Cellophane,” The Gazette and Daily (York, PA), December 20, 1938.

[2] “Decorative Cellophane,” DuPont Product Information Photographs, Series VII, Box 7, Folder 5 ‘Uses of Cellophane’.

[3] The Story of Cellophane; “Decorative Cellophane,” DuPont Product Information Photographs, 1950: http://digital.hagley.org/1972341_1697?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=c5e0e48ee2bec77d5705&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=0&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=20

[4] Beatrice Daily Sun, August 31, 1948; The American Brewer, 1939 edition.

[5] Kingston Daily Freeman, 1954.

[6] “Cellophane bathing suit covering,” DuPont Product Info Photographs, 1950: http://digital.hagley.org/1972341_1695?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=4b9deda3fc76ea014828&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=1&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=0; Nation’s Business, 1946, pg. 98; DuPont Magazine, v. 29, no. 9, pg. 12-18: http://digital.hagley.org/1935_29_09?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=2d0bf31840705dfb4453&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=6&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=11#page/20/mode/1up/search/cellophane.

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