Have you ever wondered if you could make furniture out of used chewing gum? As strange as it sounds, it is actually possible to create functional and even artistic pieces using discarded gum. With some creativity and patience, you can upcycle gum into one-of-a-kind furnishings.
Gathering the Materials
The first step is gathering enough used chewing gum to work with. This can be done by collecting gum off the bottoms of tables, chairs, and desks. Schools, cafes, and office buildings are great places to harvest discarded gum. Using a plastic scraper, you can peel off chunks of gum and collect them in a container. It may take gathering gum from multiple locations to acquire enough material. Some key things to keep in mind:
- Aim for at least 0.5-1 pound of gum to make a small item like a stool. For larger pieces, like a chair or table, you will need several pounds.
- Make sure the gum is not too dried out or crumbly. Fresher gum has more flexibility for shaping.
- Avoid contamination like dirt and hair. Carefully select clean portions of gum.
Once you have gathered enough high-quality gum, you’re ready to prepare it for furniture-making.
Preparing and Shaping the Gum
Before the gum can be shaped, it needs to be softened and cleaned. Here are the basic steps:
- Soak the gum in warm water to make it pliable enough for shaping. Let it soak for 1-2 hours.
- Knead the gum together to meld different pieces into a unified mass. Slowly work out any air pockets.
- Form the gum into the desired shape by hand or by pressing it into a mold. Work slowly to prevent cracking.
- Clean off any lingering debris like paper or foil by wiping with a damp cloth.
- At this point, you have a basic gum shape ready for adding detail and structure.
Adding Internal Supports
While gum is flexible for shaping, it lacks rigid structure on its own to make furniture. So some internal supports are needed:
- Wire mesh, chicken wire, or metal rods can be molded inside of gum furniture for strength and stability.
- Wooden dowels, skewers, or sticks work well for smaller gum pieces like stools, shelves, and accessories.
- Use hot glue to adhere the internal supports and hold them in the ideal position inside the gum.
- The supports should be applied gradually as the gum shape is formed for the best integration.
Creating Artistic Details
With the basic structure formed, the fun creative work can begin. Gum lends itself to sculpting all kinds of artistic embellishments:
- Add bumps, grooves, folds, and indents by carving the surface of the gum with clay tools. Create unique textures.
- Affix small bits of gum to form nubs and bubbles for an organic look.
- Shape gum ropes and attach them to make a woven or branch-like appearance.
- Stick small objects like beads, buttons, and marbles into the gum to decorate.
- Use food coloring to dye portions of the gum for colorful patterning effects.
The possibilities for turning gum into an art piece are endless!
Finishing and Sealing
The final step is applying a clear finish to harden and seal the completed gum furniture:
- Polyurethane resin works well as a gum sealant and adds glossy effects.
- Epoxy resin can provide an extremely durable, glass-like coating.
- Apply 2-4 coats for the best protection and high shine finish.
- Let the resin cure fully between coats for proper hardening.
Once fully cured, the gum will have a hardened, plastic-like surface while retaining some flexibility underneath. Handle gently and avoid sitting on uncured pieces.
And that’s it – you now have a functional work of art, ready to furnish your home! From stools to shelves to tables, recycled gum has artistic potential. So next time you see a wad of discarded gum, think twice – with some creativity, it can be given new life.