Rubber is a very important material found in many aspects of our daily life. It has many useful properties -  stretchiness, heat resistance, chemical resistance, electrical resistance AND waterproof to boot. 

St Petersburg artisan, Maria of ModernJewelry MKFJ  is a designer who uses rubber extensively for her awesome contemporary collection.

She takes full advantage of the softness and malleability of rubber to coil, insert and form her structural pieces.  I love how she uses colored rubber not just the black version. 

Maria explained how she came to use this material :

Since the childhood my life was connected with drawing and art. I have a professional high art education and for over fifteen years I have been teaching children various disciplines of arts, in parallel engaged in the creation of jewelry.
At the age of 34, in 2019 after two years of maternity leave I realized that I want to create my own jewelry brand, I have all the resources for this and this time there is the most suitable moment: I finally had found my material, I feel its possibilities, I like its expressiveness, unknown and modernity, in my head there are a lot of ideas and I'm ready to try myself in fashion industry.
From what I see in her store, Maria is well on her way to achieving her goals!

All About Rubber

We use two forms of rubber today - both the natural and the synthetic (derived from petroleum) kinds because the demand for this material is very high.  Car tires, rubber gloves, balloons, pencil erasers, boots,  rubber bands,  certain adhesives are some of the many, many uses of rubber. 

The indigenous cultures of MesoAmerica were the first to use rubber - as balls in games. Later on, the Mayan and Aztec people used rubber to make containers and to waterproof textiles. 

Natural rubber came from South America until the 19th century when cultivation was introduced in other tropical parts of the world. King Leopold II who ruled Belgium from 1865-1908, was responsible for brutal atrocities inflicted on the people of the Congo Free State which was his private property and project. He forced the people to collect the latex from rubber trees and had their hands cut off if they failed to meet targets. Villagers who resisted had their homes razed to the ground. 

The British established commercial production of natural rubber in Singapore and Malaya. Sir Henry Ridley ("Mad Ridley") was the first scientific director of Singapore's Botanical Gardens from 1888-1911. It was he who not only promoted the crop but developed the tapping technique to collect the latex without killing the tree. 

South East Asia is the world's largest producer of natural rubber.  My paternal grandfather and uncles worked in Malayan rubber estates before, during and after World War II.  (See my past post on The Art and History of 100 years of  Peranakan Jewelry.)

This short video filmed in Kerala, India, shows how rubber trees are tapped and the latex collected in small cups. The latex is mixed with formic acid (vinegar) to coagulate it. The rubber is then processed into sheets. 

NB. This blog  post was written several weeks ago and is not intended to be related to current events. 

Before You Go:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM