In the mid-1960s, the advancement of technology was a boon for soft drink and beer makers. With pull tabs, no separate “churchkey” can opener was needed. All consumers had to do was insert a finger in a ring and pull.
For a “found object” artist like Hirshman, these detached strips were a gift of form, perfect for bird-like heads and beaks, as in his 1967 piece “On the Veldt” (one flying, one on the ground). Hirshman also used the pull tabs for many other purposes. By the mid-1970s, governments around the US and the world started to ban the strips as health and environmental hazards. Their use in consumer products was over. But not in Hirshman’s art. He had a ready bucketful of pull tabs he salvaged as litter on his many walks and used for the rest of his artistic life.