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The Roanoke Times

May 11, 2006

Gum adds pop to artist's work

by Marques G. Harper


Jamie Marraccini can chew some serious gum. By his own count, the 36-year-old has chewed 50,000 pieces. On a good day he chews 25 pieces for about 25 minutes a shot, which he says is the perfect amount of time.

"I've been doing it since Cave Spring High School, ever since I started smearing gum in my Cave Spring locker," said Marraccini, who lives in Potomac Falls with his wife, Rana, and 2-year-old daughter, Marliana. (Both are gum chewers.)

He has moved on from his old locker and the days when he stuck gum to a wall in college. Now he turns chewed gum -- his and others' -- into art. Marraccini has even started a Chew By Numbers series (, that allows gum chewers to make their own art. That way he doesn't have to depend on selling his own works.

At some point, he wants to expand his Chew By Numbers line to include the star on Mill Mountain. For now, the Chew By Numbers kits are space and comet, diamond and dots, and a tulip. Each kit, which comes with fresh gum, costs $14.95.

"Eventually I just kind of started to focus on characters to be in the art with larger-than-life features," said the artist, who recently was the subject of a story in The Washington Post's Sunday Source. "So I don't crank out a lot of these things in a year. I've been kind of slow and steady. I try to do things with the art that I find entertaining. The whole motivation for me was the entertainment factor."

He has co-workers who are willing to chew gum when he's working on an art project to add to the 30 works he has created.

"I let gum sit for a while because I'm not making large pieces every day," said Marraccini. "The chewed gum will sit in storage for a very long time. By that time, anything on there is already dead. I don't even think about it. [But] I don't rechew. That's my only rule."

When he's not smackin' gum, Marraccini, a Virginia Tech grad, is the chief operating officer for To see more of his work, go to


Each of the Chew By Numbers kits comes with a numbered board and lots of gum and costs $14.95.




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