|WUSA9 NEWS NOW - Written by Bruce Leshan
April 5, 2007
Sterling Man Finds Big Bucks In Chewed-Up Gum
STERLING, Va. (WUSA) -- Is there anything more gross than sticking your hand under a chair and finding a big wad of chewed up gum? So what would you think of an artist in Sterling who might find an opportunity in that sticky mess? Jamie Marraccini's gum art can fetch a small fortune. "This was actually my very first sculpture," he says pointing to a mass of waving eyeballs waving from then end of protruding tongues.
"The mouths are all right here, with shiny white teeth, no cavities."
But you can't make gum art with fresh gum. "No. It has to be chewed. You've got to cleanse it of those sugars and other things and get right down to the synthetic gum base and artificial colors." A big artwork can take 4,000 sticks, which is a lot of chomping, even for a guy with jaws of steel. Popping a huge bubble on his glasses, Marraccini says "It's good for your teeth. It's gotta be. I'm living proof." He has not a single cavity.
Marraccini has enlisted the help of daughter Marliana. "Now she's my big gum chewer," he says. And he's planning for more help from his baby Brienza too. "Not yet. She will soon," says mother Rana Marraccini.
Jamie gets a lot of his raw material from friends. And talk about gross -- sometimes one bad piece will spoil the whole bunch. "Now I require dental records before I let someone chew for me," says Marraccini.
Here's something you don't get with most art. It smells good. One 14 year old painting still has a whiff of Bubblicious.
Jamie keeps careful track of gum characteristics. "I've just created box after box with the label of the gum in there." For pastels, he likes Fruit Stripe. "For bright colors that are really bold, very spread able gum, I use a lot of Bubblicious."
But the only good white gum is going off the market. "I went out and bought 100 pounds of Carefree peppermint gum. It's all in my basement waiting to be chewed."
He rarely sells his art, but he says sometimes people pester him enough to get one. He's commissioned for a four foot long painting for $12,000. THAT'S a lot to chew on.
For aspiring gum artists, Jamie's developed a Chew-By-Numbers kits. They're a little like paint-by-numbers kits. He sells them for about $15 at www.ChewByNumbers.com.
Each of the Chew By Numbers kits comes with a numbered board and lots of gum and costs $14.95.
GumArt is a trademark
of BlueNet Solutions,