Friday, 1 February 2013

1A60 Teeth A Minute

That's a blast from the past.  Here's today's:

Unzipping, zipping up and wearing ten tops at once while talking about the history of the zip, or "zipper" to some.

The prehistory of the zip can be found in mediaeval times with the hook and eye fastener, whose first traces are found in the fourteenth century.  After quite some time, the idea was hit upon of sewing them onto tape.  Then, in 1851 the sewing machine pioneer Elias Howe thought of the zipper, but didn't market it because his sewing machine business took off.  Later on, an inventor called Whitcomb Judson, who also invented the pneumatic railway, came up with and patented the idea  again as a way of closing women's boots.  It was then exhibited at the Chicago World Fair in 1893, where it was done and undone something like a million times without jamming or failing in other ways.

The first use on a jacket was in 1917, after Gideon Sundback, trying to deal with the loss of his wife, channelled his grief into improving the zip fastener and managed to increase the tooth count to ten an inch rather than the previous four.  It was then used on flying jackets, and proved to be stronger than the fabric of the garments themselves.  These early zippers could not be washed because they would've rusted.  Stainless steel came later, and some metal zips are made of brass.  These original zips are very valuable today as few have survived.

Later on, Elsa Schiaparelli, the fashion designer, put zippers on the pockets of a beach jacket in 1930.  In 1937, the "battle of the fly" replaced button flies with zips and they were also marketed as a way of making it easier for children to dress themselves.  At about this time, they seem to have been banned in the States because they were considered too risque!  A later development was "box and pin", which allowed them to be open at both ends.

Zips were initially concealed but later tended to become a visible feature of clothing.  There are three main types of teeth:  metal, moulded plastic and coil.  Metal teeth are sliced from a piece of wire which is Y-shaped in cross-section, which reduces waste.  Moulded plastic teeth mimic these metal teeth.  Coil zips are helices of hookable plastic and can be easily cut to any length.

Aldous Huxley used the zip in 'Brave New World' to symbolise futurism, modernism, speed, efficiency, the machine age and to some extent sexuality, and these remain significant.  However, since they are products of the machine age, and to some extent machines themselves, they are potentially vulnerable and, far from encouraging self-sufficiency, which is how they were once marketed, in fact increase reliance on machinery and a global infrastructure.  They are hard to replace without a sewing machine and jamming renders the entire fastener useless, unlike buttons and other fasteners which are less dependent in this way.

Incidentally, in the process of making this video, i noticed the blood was getting cut off to my arms and head, so it was a bit of a race against time!

The number at the top of this entry may be way out, incidentally.  This is an example of how i live in a different world than other people.  Most people are probably not able to count the number of teeth on a zip from the sound it makes.  The other thing is the connection with this picture:

Yes, there is a link!  My temporal lobes, or at least one of them, apparently the non-dominant one, is unlike others' to quite some degree.  As a result, what you probably see as a result of Hypnocat is what i see when i see a zip at a particular distance, except mine is quite a bit more pronounced than what i think you are likely to be experiencing.  That's just the tip of the iceberg of course.  I'll probably explore the rabbit hole further tomorrow.

Another practical difficulty with this video is the fact that while i was getting dressed for the bit at the start, i somewhat compromised my circulation, and it occurred to me that passing out on the floor would lead to a rather unusual hospital visit, so it was a bit of a race against time which i hadn't anticipated.

I see yesterday's and today's videos as forming a pair.  If i end up choosing the idea linked to today's, it'll be a "hat trick" of sorts.