By Brittany Boyd
Sterling man creates artwork out of gum
For most people, chewed gum is nothing but a nuisance.
It gets stuck in hair, under desks and on the soles of shoes – and it
doesn't come off easily.
But for Sterling resident Jamie Marraccini, 35, gum is all
good. “I've always loved gum,” he said. In grade school, he recalled when gum
was like currency. “If you had a box of gum, you had power. Kids would flock
around just to see it.”
In high school, Marraccini stuck wads of gum inside his locker
and kept them there all year. The fascination continued through college and beyond.
Gum, he said, not only boost metabolic rates and prevents
tooth decay, but it can also be transformed into art.
Today, the electrical engineer and gum artist has attracted
national attention for his more than 30 works of art completed over the past
Each abstract sculpture or composition depicting people, eyes, hands,
feet and so on consist of hundreds – in not thousands – of pieces of chewed gum
carefully spread or molded into place.
GumArt has been featured on cable and
network television, including CNN, ABC and CBS; on radio programs; an in countless
publications, including Nickelodeon Magazine. Home & Garden Television just
finished taping for an “Offbeat America” episode tentatively set to air Nov.
13 at 9.p.m. For details, check the program guide at www.hgtv.com .
Marraccini also has done solo art exhibitions. Currently, his work is on display
throughout his single-family home in Cascades, and on www.gumart.com .
Hanging in the kitchen is his most recent piece, “Hands on Sticks,” a 2-by-3-foot “portrait” of
Marraccini and his wife, Rana, made from 4,212 pieces of chewed gum.
has a marbleized effect, created by two or more pieces of chewed gum swirled
together. It took five years to complete.
Production is slow because it takes
a lot of time and effort to gather all of the chewed gum necessary.
I'm a mad chewer,” he said. He's chewed man as 50 pieces per day – with the jaw
muscled to prove it – when working on a project, but he can't do it all himself.
Marraccini elicits help from friends and family. He passes out packs of gum at
work, along with laminated sheets of paper where chewed gum is deposited, then
Chewed gum is sorted by color and stored inside plastic containers
on a table in Marraccini's living room, alongside endless stacks of Extra, Bubblicious,
Carefree, Fruit Stripe, Winterfresh, Trident… the list goes on and on. Some of
the major brands are familiar with GumArt and send Marraccini free cases of their
“Somewhere along the line, I got burnt out on grape,” he said. “There's
no way I could chew it again.”
He selects gum based on color, and pays careful
attention to how the colors change in age. Carefree peppermint, Marraccini says,
is the only gum that stays true white, and Fruit Stripe has the best pastel palette.
For pure flavor and chewing satisfaction, the artist like Bubblicious Paradise
Punch the best, but he's wary of branding. He wants GumArt to remain pure.
has been unable to part with all but a few of his works for money, although occasionally
he does work on commission.
Currently, the artist is working on a new project
for kids – a “Chew-By-Numbers” kit complete with everything needed to make a
miniature work of GumArt. He hopes to get it on the market soon. “We'll see what
happens,” he said. “Some parents will probably think it's gross, but some will