stay tab alphabet

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

upper/primary case

c g h i n o r u v

lower/secondary case (where available)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

numerals


This project began with the realization that

Note morphological similarity between stay tab and 7-segment digital display.

that is, that a stay tab from an aluminum beverage can is morphologically similar to the 7-segment LED/LCD digital character displays still commonly found on calculators, cash registers, and electronic toys. From there, it was straightforward that the arabic numerals, and most letters of the English alphabet, could easily be formed by snipping away the appropriate pieces of a stay tab using wire cutters. A bit of experimentation revealed that stay tabs, which can be made to produce every letter of the English alphabet, are actually more versatile than 7-segment displays, which cannot produce K, M, W, a distinct V, or a distinct X. This, of course, is because there are things you can do with a single stay tab that you cannot do with a single character in an electronic display.

Consider the problem of distinguishing between a U and a V. In a 7-segment display, these two characters are identical, in both upper and lower cases:

7-segment displays cannot make a distinction between a U and a V.

However, using stay tabs, a visual distinction can be achieved simply by rotating the tab 180 degrees before cutting out the "top" segment(s) to form the letter V:

Stay tabs can be inverted to achieve a visual distinction between U and V in both upper and lower cases.

Similarly, a 90-degree rotation of the tab makes it possible to form an M:

A stay tab turned on its side can form an M.

Or a W:

Stay tab turned 90 degrees to form W.

Note also, particularly in the lower case, how the cuts in the tabs are made at angles chosen to emphasize the letterforms.

Arrows indicate emphatic-angle cuts in letters r, u, and n.

As for the X and the K, the integral diagonals which make these characters untenable for 7-segment display can be suggested by combining the emphatic angle cuts described above with small right-angle "nicks" snipped in one or both sides of the tab.

Arrows indicate right-angle nicks suggesting diagonals in letters K and X.

Stay tabs are literally everywhere to be had for the taking. They come in a variety of different styles, like these:

5 different styles of stay tabs, arranged in distinctly non-chronological order.

Although the "square" style tabs pictured extreme left seem best for general-purpose letterforms, the "round" style pictured extreme right are more common, and can be used to make good-looking numerals, as well as some of the curvier letters, like S. Additionally, many of the letterforms shown here look just as good (or better) if the tab is rotated 180 degrees, as was done herein with the V for functional purposes, before the appropriate segments are snipped out. Finally, note that stay tabs are frequently anodized in various colors before being attached to soda cans (see picture below), and that the creative possibilities of using these colored tabs remain largely unexplored.

A collection of anodized stay tabs in gold, red, blue, and exotic aquamarine.

iamanangelchaser@yahoo.com

1.17.2002

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