Red Cloth History
In 1956 the National Executive Board approved changing the Interpreter strip to white embroidery on red twill and the moved the location on the uniform to above the B.S.A. program strip.
The first version of the white embroidery on red twill is 100mm in length. Each of the five first interpreter strips begin with the words “I SPEAK”
In 1959 the “I SPEAK” was removed from the interpreter strip and the strop shortened to 75mm for most languages. However; a second size, 19 x 98mm, of the red interpreter strip was created for several languages because of the lettering style.
The red twill interpreter strips were produced with six different backs.
Gauze Reinforced Starched Back (1957 - 1972)
In the early 1980s an embroider applied a gauze to be back of the cloth prior to the embroidery process. After the emblems were embroidered a heavy starch was applied to the back of the emblems before the emblems were cut out. This combination of gauze reinforcing and heavy starch counteracted the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling.
White Glue Coated Back (1957 - 1968)
An embroider National Supply used during 1976 coated the backs of their cloth with a thin Elmer's white glue before the emblems were embroidered. The white glue counteracted the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage.
Red Rubber Back (1971)
In 1971 the Red twill cloth manufacturer experimented with a very thin liquid applied coating that appears to be thin red rubber. This was done to eliminate the need for the embroider to apply a coating to the back of badges after the badges were embroidered. This method only worked for twill cut edge badges and did not solve the problems embroiderers were having with fully embroidered badges, thus the embroiderers abandoned the red backing and began applying a plastic backing to all badges.
Blue Waffle Plastic Back (1973 - 1978)
In 1972 embroiders changed their process and introduced plastic backing onto badges. The plastic was added to the back to counteract the losses embroiders were incurring due to transport, storage, and handling. The introduction of the plastic reinforced back lowered loss and increased speed. To make the plastic easy for the worker to see, embroiders started with plastic with a bluish tint. The application of the plastic is what gives it a distinct waffle pattern. Interpreter strips were embroidered multiple badges per cloth square. Then the cloth square was place upside down in a heat press, figure A. The a square of blue polyethylene plastic was placed over the back of the badges. Next a sheet of silicon reinforced cloth was place on top of the plastic. Then the heat press was closed and the badge and plastic heated to 350 degrees for 60 seconds. The pattern in the reinforced silicon coated cloth is what caused the waffle pattern. Figure B shows a close up of the Silicon reinforced cloth. After the plastic was applied the badges were cut out. Waffle plastic back patrol interpreter strips are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the plastic.
Clear Waffle Plastic Back (1973 - 1978)
After workers became comfortable working with the blue plastic material described in Series 6A, embroiders found the clear polyethylene plastic was less expensive and they switched from blue tint to clear. The waffle pattern in the clear is the result of the same process being used for blue and clear. Waffle plastic back interpreter strips are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the plastic.
Molded Plastic Back (1978 - 1989)
In the late 1980s an embroider applying the waffle plastic back introduced a change in the process to reduce the amount of work steps the embroidery machine worker did. Using the heat press cause the worked to have to play close attention to the alarm after 60 seconds and unclamp the machine and remove the badges and perform the process over again. The change was the introduction of a mini oven with a conveyor, figure A. The worker simply turned the square of badges upside down placed a sheet of plastic over the back put the on the conveyor and waited for the cloth square to drop onto a table. This meant the worked did not have to monitor the machine as when using the heat press method. This new conveyor oven process gave the back a new look. The plastic melts and conforms to the embroidery giving it a molded look and feel.
Molded plastic back interpreter strips are found with and without gauze reinforcing under the molded plastic. During interviews with a embroiders it became apparent that the application of gauze was not consistent.