November 14, 2011 - Invention of Cellophane

– 1908

A Swiss chemist named Jacques E. Brandenberger did some things most of us do: he ate out a restaurant, noticed another diner spilling his wine on the tablecloth, and watched the waiter exchange the now-stained tablecloth with a fresh, clean one.

But then Brandenberger did something most of us have never done: he used the things he'd observed as inspiration to get busy and invent something new. Brandenberger hoped to create a clear, waterproof coating for cloth, something that would repel, rather than absorb, things like wine. He was a bit disappointed that, once dry, the coating peeled right off. The clear film apparently was no good at preventing stains on cloth—but, Brandenberger thought, look what it can do!

The inventor was able to use his new film in gas masks, and he sold the film to Whitman's candy company, for wrapping chocolates. He developed a machine to manufacture cellophane and helped start a company to sell it; he also joined forces with an American chemical company called DuPont. Cellophane quickly became an important part of food packaging, since water, grease and oil, bacteria, and even air cannot get into a sealed cellophane package. It is also used as a base for adhesive tape, in certain batteries, as dialysis tubing, and in other products.

Clear and colored cellophane are
popular for different uses.
Get Crafty!

Over the years, people have come up with tons of ways to use cellophane in arts and crafts projects. Here, here, and here are some of these ideas!

Some fine artists use cellophane. Check out the graffiti-on-cellophane here (scroll down to “Cellograff”).


  1. I had no idea when it was invented the cellophane. Great post.

  2. Can you tell me where you got the photo of the blue cellophane piece? I would love to know how to recreate it, it would be a perfect backdrop for my wedding ceremony (I was going to do a huge glass fusing installation, but it would have been WAY too fragile and weighed WAY too much!)

    1. This piece was installed in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2007. You can see another photo of it here:

      Since it is an art piece, I doubt that there are instructions as to how to recreate it anywhere on the internet... But you can be inspired by it and try your hand with colored cellophane rolls and see what happens. I think a light or window behind is pretty mandatory!

      This could be the same piece from a completely different angle:

      I think the piece is titled "My Business, with the Cloud," by Spencer Finch. It apparently also showed at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, DC.

      Good luck!