What Can You Do With Gum Wrappers?
I have an addiction to collecting weird things—gum wrappers, bottle caps, pop tabs—so I can use them to make art. While the craft of gum wrapper chains started decades ago, my affinity for this DIY grew in high school. I'll show you a dress I won a contest for using this technique while also teaching you how to fold your own chains!
This is a fun and fairly easy craft to do, and it's a great way to recycle. My fashion efforts won me 1000 Canadian dollars—get inspired and make your own creations!
What You'll Need
- Gum Wrappers: You'll need a ton of these. We made our dress using paper wrappers, but you can use foil too. The process is the same!
- Patience: You'll also need a lot of this.
1. Fold It in Half
Take a single wrapper and fold it longways, or hot-dog style. Do this three times. Try to fold the jagged edge inside because it can get in the way when making the chains.
2. Fold It Through the Middle
Fold the wrapper in half the other way, right through the middle. It should make a "V" shape. Next, fold the sides into the middle, making a little "v." This little guy will be one link on your chain.
Before you proceed, you'll have to repeat these steps to make another chain link. Once you have two, you're ready to connect them!
4. Connect the Pieces
It's simple, really, just take the two ends of one and push it through the two holes in the other. This is why you'll want your gum wrappers to be folded neatly—if the jagged ends stick out, it can get difficult to see what you're doing or where to push the wrappers through and connect them. Keep it neat!
5. Keep Going
Keep on going forever and ever this same way. Eventually, you'll have a long and fairly sturdy chain!
How Can You Use a Wrapper Chain?
Now that you've got a chain, it's time to figure out how to use it.
- Create a fun necklace or bracelet.
- Make a chain that's long enough to wrap around a whole can or bottle. Then, fill it with pens or other items you want to organize.
- String together a long chain and use it as a garland! Hang it over a doorway or window.
If you're feeling creative, I challenge you to make your own recycled art or fashion using them. It's fun, and it could even win you some money! Check out the art museums in your area and see if anyone is having a recycled art fashion show.
A Long Time Ago, I Can Still Remember...
It started in high school. Diana, my high-school best friend, and I had been folding gum wrapper chains for quite some time. It worked out well because we both chewed infinite sticks of gum and thereby ended up with an abundance of wrappers.
We were also both in the National Art Honors Society, so we were looking for artistic ways to use them. We threw around the idea of creating a gum wrapper dress, but we never really got started on it.
This changed when our art teacher told us about a recycled art fashion show that she encouraged us to enter. We started collecting and folding wrappers like crazy people. Still, as high school students do, we procrastinated until the last week and had no real product. When we walked into our NAHS meeting, the teacher reminded us of the fashion show and how we had committed to making a dress.
With one week to go, we buckled down. The kids at school knew what we were doing, and we had constant gum wrapper donors. We folded in class, at home, at work—all in an effort to make enough chains.
Due to time constraints, Diana and I had to give up on our original design, which featured folded wrappers as the whole dress. We opted instead for fringe, which gave us an exciting way to use the foil wrappers we had collected.
I finished the last touches on the dress right when it was due, snapped a few photos, and handed it over.
I never saw the dress again, but those photos ended up winning me and Diana 1000 Canadian dollars in a recycled art contest held in honor of Earth Day. All we had to do was make a video, which was somehow selected from many other entries. I mean, it was really stupid. I've included it above as well as our acceptance video below.
Since then, I've thought about creating another piece, this time with more timeliness and craftsmanship. I've also thrown around the idea of creating other recycled art dresses, which I hope to complete in time for this year's Earth Day. Wish me luck!
June Georgalas on July 01, 2019:
I graduated high school in 1965. During my sophmore year, it was the "thing" to make a gum wrapper chain that was as long as your boyfriend's height.
Another Peggy on March 05, 2019:
We made them in the mid fifties, also!
Peggy on February 22, 2019:
We made these while in jr high school in 1969.
Christy Kirwan from San Francisco on January 21, 2014:
This is such a unique idea! I really enjoyed the story of your art show project too. You managed to make gum wrappers look totally punk rock! ;)
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 18, 2014:
Very cute idea. I imagine this would be pretty popular among teens! Congratulations on your contest winnings.
Mackenzie Sage Wright on January 18, 2014:
Wow, how creative kids can get. It's amazing. that dress is awesome, it reminds me of those stunning duck tape prom dresses. I don't chew gum, lol. But it looks like those wrappers can lead to some pretty fun creations. Nice hub, thanks for sharing it was a lot of fun.
Priyanka Estambale from United States on January 18, 2014:
Beautiful idea :) Awesome!!!