Noticing the jar of multi-colored rubber bands in the kitchen, a friend asked me, “What are you going to do with them?”
There really was no answer. In fact, it’s not at all understandable why someone would save rubber bands, except they seem impossible to throw away and occasionally the odd one or two will come in handy for bundling up or repairing something. And, really….they are everywhere. Even the broccoli and celery at the grocery are bundled together with a colorful rubber band, and all must be saved and collected, perhaps protecting the environment in some small way or (most likely) a kooky obsession.
People using rubber goes way back. The Aztecs and Mayans used natural rubber products and mixed latex and other materials as early as 1600 B.C.; however, the process of “vulcanization”, the chemical process of converting natural rubber into a more durable product, was not developed until the 19th century. Stephen Perry, a British businessman and inventor, received a patent for the rubber band in England more than 170 years ago.
Today, rubber bands (aka elastic bands, laggy bands, gum bands, and elastics) are made of either synthetic rubber or natural rubber (latex) taken from the sap of rubber trees, and there are many types, sizes and versatile household, office and industrial uses as well as uniquely creative uses for the rubber band.
For example, everybody likes making rubber band balls. It takes patience and a lot of rubber bands to get things rolling, but not fine crafting skills, and it’s fun to have on your desk to bounce around the office.
A man named Joel Waul from Florida is credited by Guinness World Records as the builder of the largest rubber band ball (aka “Megaton”). Consisting of 700,000 rubber bands, it measured 6′ 7″ high, 25′ 4″ in diameter, and weighed 9,032 lb.
Megaton is certainly impressive as is Preston Moeller’s cool rubber band chair which earned him first place in 2011 at the Appalachian State University 6th Annual Chair Design competition. A great example of functional “rubber band” art and creative design using unconventional materials.
Those achievements are inspiring, but also a bit beyond ordinary skills and require a huge supply of big rubber bands. Thinking smaller scale, the idea for an art project began to develop—–create colorful vases by simply wrapping rubber bands around glassware, one at a time. It was fun and easy (no glue or special tools required), and the pieces are fairly durable except the rubber bands will deteriorate when exposed to heat or sunlight, requiring repairs and replacements.
The rubber band art vases and jars are pretty as well as handy to have around the house and office, and they’ve been put to good use as flower vases and planters as well as holders for organizing pencils & pens, utensils, odds & ends, and…. more rubber bands! People are always amazed when told the flower vase they are admiring is decorated with rubber bands, and the possibilities are endless as are the design variations.
Finally, there’s an answer to that provocative question —“What are you going to do with them?” Try it, and have some fun with your own project.
There’s inspiration here — Art Transforming Trash shows you the many ways to create beautiful art from plastics discarded and found.
Have you created an art object with rubber bands or other recycled items?
Please share your ideas and creations with On2In2™, and join the conversation via “Engage“. Would love to hear all about the fun you’re having.
Feature photo of rubber bands by Bill Ebbesen CC BY-SA 3.0
Rubber band ball and art images from the Zeester photo studio CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Information Resource: Wikipedia (Vulcanization, Rubber Band)