Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Flash Paper Dress

Bring back the paper dress
  (+22, -6)(+22, -6)
(+22, -6)
  [vote for,
against]

The paper dress was invented in the 60's, and became quite fashionable. They were cheap and disposable - truly the fashion of the future. Well, at least until they realized that flammability was an issue. At the time the solution was to use flame-resistant materials. I assume this was too costly or toxic, as they quickly died off.

I propose we work in the other direction. Make them more flammable. In fact, make them so flammable that the heat put out by the time the entire thing has burned is very low - hopefully making them not very dangerous.

Issues:

Practical jokes. Not sure how to get around this one, except perhaps have it leave a coherent ash.

Flammability of hair. If the thing doesn't burn fast enough, your hair might. If the material has a low enough energy content, this may not be a problem.

Worldgineer, Jan 20 2005

Paper Dresses http://www.vintagec...es/PaperDresses.htm
[Worldgineer, Jan 20 2005]

Flower Fantasy http://www.goantiqu...mages.jsp?id=482840
Vintage Hallmark paper dress [Worldgineer, Jan 20 2005]

Paper Caper http://www.consumer...T%3C%3East_id=93463
1966 Consumer Reports review of the first paper dress. [Worldgineer, Jan 20 2005]

Flash cotton http://www.penguinm.../product.php?ID=263
Comfortable, breathable, flash cotton. Machine wash cold, hang dry. [Worldgineer, Jan 22 2005]

Tapa cloth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapa_cloth
the original paper dresses [ye_river_xiv, Jun 16 2009]

[link]






       I think your date of invention may be off by a couple of thousand years.
tiromancer, Jan 20 2005
  

       Do they still make flash paper?   

       Sounds like fun for a novelty act, but the consequences if anything goes wrong are unpalatable at the very least. Just consider the gruesome deaths in night club fires every year before you start promoting this too widely.
DrCurry, Jan 20 2005
  

       I think you look hot in that dress.
benfrost, Jan 20 2005
  

       Make it a newspaper dress, give you something to read on the underground.
skinflaps, Jan 20 2005
  

       Do not wear in wet weather, I presume.
squeak, Jan 20 2005
  

       Dude...she's smoking!
shapu, Jan 20 2005
  

       [tiro] You're likely right, but I can't find references to older paper dress fads. Do you know of any? Perhaps in China?   

       [DC] Yes, this would have to be carefully designed and tested.
Worldgineer, Jan 20 2005
  

       She's just dying for an ignite on the town.   

       "Flash Paper Dresses: Gone in a snap."
contracts, Jan 20 2005
  

       Holy smouldering skivvies Batman, that's a great idea! I just hope i'm nearby when one of these gets "baked"
JungFrankenstein, Jan 21 2005
  

       Avoid the hair-catching-on-fire problem by combining this with the Cafe Alopecia invention.
robinism, Jan 21 2005
  

       Would be interesting in medical fields as doctors could ignite their used smocks.
MrDaliLlama, Jan 21 2005
  

       Tell me the truth honey, does this dress make me loo...
blissmiss, Jan 21 2005
  

       Flash paper still exists, but the heat content of enough flash paper to make a dress would be significant, as would be the risk of it igniting other people or things nearby.   

       Further, if these attained any degree of popularity and men realized that a cigarette could be used to rather quickly undress a woman...   

       Finally, the point of paper dresses was to be cheap; a flash paper dress would go against that.   

       The only reason I'm not going to fishbone this is that I do think it could be a neat concept for theatrical productions where safety considerations could be taken care of. Imagine a stage production of a superhero drama, where the hero's business suit is made of celluloid but his undersuit is made of flame-retardant cloth. That could be pretty cool.
supercat, Jan 22 2005
  

       I first read this as "Touch Paper Dress". I wasn't far off.
wagster, Jan 22 2005
  

       [sc] I don't think flash paper dresses would be too expensive. You can get whole stacks of flash paper for a few dollars, and I'm sure there's quite a markup on rare professional magician items.   

       I'm imagining the paper material being much thinner than flash paper - perhaps like tissue paper. This way there is less of it to burn.
Worldgineer, Jan 22 2005
  

       The problem is that if you make the material too thin, its utility as a dress would be limitted. Perhaps celluloid sheets can be made cheap enough that cost wouldn't be a problem, but as noted I'd see this as being useful only for theatrical and other such purposes, not for general wear.
supercat, Jan 22 2005
  

       I'm fine with that. The Hallmark paper dresses were made to match paper tablecloths and napkins for parties.
Worldgineer, Jan 22 2005
  

       To make the dress more safe and more interesting, apply the flash coating (sulfuric acid?) to only half the paper, by applying it in stripes. Inch-wide stripes of flash chemical would alternate with inch-wide stripes of fire retardant chemical.   

       The stripes would run horizontally around the body. When the dress ignites, inch wide rings of fire-retardant paper will fall to the ground.
robinism, Jan 22 2005
  

       Similarly, you could paint flowers onto your loved ones dress with fire-retardant. The flowers will flutter to the ground as you disrobe her with a match.
wagster, Jan 22 2005
  

       [robinism], I love your idea, but wouldn't a fire-retardant strip that goes all the way around the body work as a firebreak? The dress wouldn't vanish or disintegrate so much as part. Tea- length to minidress in a flash! Bored with the minidress? Presto--tank top!   

       Instead, have the retardant applied in a single inch-wide strip that spirals around the body, leaving one inch between coils. Ignition of the dress would result in a single long ribbon, curled around the (former) wearer's feet. Plus the burn process would probably look really cool.
Trout, Jan 25 2005
  

       [Trout], Nice! Kind of like peeling an orange, or the Escher drawing of two heads made from one spiraling strip.   

       I do think that the flash-paper flame would jump the fire-break (especially if the flame started at the bottom). I can't know for sure till I try, and to actually try it out would be against my halfbaking principles.
robinism, Jan 26 2005
  

       I was thinking of a flash paper suit. It could be used as a protest, sort of like those Buddhist monks did in Vietnam. Except they burned all the way up but the protestor would not, hopefully. In this situaton, the sudden column of flame enveloping a man would be an attention getter and the cameras would all be on him. Underneath he would have an ornate codpiece, much fireproof grease, and body paint stating "SAVE THE WELSH" or something of the sort. The grease might also be handy on making his escape as he would be tough to hold on to.
bungston, Jun 12 2009
  

       If you've ever played with it, flash paper does not burn especially cool. If you hold a piece while it burns all the way, you will feel it, with at least first degree burns. There may be some other material that is suitable for this, but I'm not aware of it.
MechE, Jun 13 2009
  

       I am greatly in favor of especially cool flash paper, because the regular stuff is pretty cool already.
bungston, Jun 14 2009
  

       Oddly enough, the very first nitrocellulose, as made by Christian Friedrich Schönbein, actually was women's wear. He wiped up a chemical spill with his wife's apron, hung it up to dry, and had a hell of a lot of explaining to do when it went "whoosh" (fortunately not when she was wearing it).   

       So a standard cotton dress could be converted to nitrocellulose after manufacture, but that shoots down the whole cheapness angle.   

       Flash paper is still available at magic shops, but I'd not want to pay for a dress's worth. It's sold in thin sheets much like cigarette papers, and is considered dangerous. It burns fairly hot--the powdered stuff is used as gunpowder, for goodness sake--and wouldn't make a safe dress, in my opinion.   

       A single flash-paper sheet is very thin and flimsy, and does burn quite fast. I have held the corner of a sheet between thumb and finger, lit the opposite end, and pinched out the flame when it arrived a second or two later, but I've also seen a football player shriek and fail to do the same thing (and a ten-year-old girl very calmly succeed while he watched).   

       A wadded-up 2-inch by 4-inch sheet will burn almost instantly, and gives off a startling gust of heat and light. Compressed enough and hit hard enough, the stuff will explode. It is guncotton, after all, although I have seen the woolly form only once.   

       I'd certainly not wear a dress made of flash paper. Unless it was light blue, had a dippy hemline, and looked fabbo over severely black stilettos. [ ]
baconbrain, Jun 14 2009
  

       a flash paper dress might make for an unusual strip tease act, hey, "ya gotta get a gimmick". but wouldn't tyvek be a better disposable outfit? just think of a bio-hazard suit. years ago i remember seeing windbreakers and shorts made of printed tyvek, don't know if they still make them.   

       And "supercat", it would look cool, but your hero'd need a new suit for every performance.
-wess, Jun 15 2009
  

       Appalingly dangerous and ill-advised. [+]
8th of 7, Jun 15 2009
  

       The concept would probably best be reserved for the cyborg babe now de rigeur for all low scifi space operas. The cyborg hospitality girl (literally a hooker with a heart of gold, and also some boron) would inhale the entire cigarette with a single draw as part of her strip act, then ignite her dress with it, revealing (so to speak) her nonhuman nature as well as her fire-resistant properties to prove useful in adventure to come.
bungston, Jun 15 2009
  

       // part of her strip act //   

       Presumably accompanied by the song, "Come on baby, light my fire" ?
8th of 7, Jun 16 2009
  

       Or Disco Inferno, Burning down the House, Hot Hot Hot etc.
gnomethang, Jun 17 2009
  
      
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