Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
I'm With the Band: Cool Organizing With Rubber Bands
IN THE (BOUNCY) BEGINNING
Ever since the invention of the rubber band in 1845, we've been able to bind papers, folders, supplies and books with stretchy goodness. Unfortunately, rubber bands eventually dried and cracked and snapped. Sometimes, as they lost their elasticity, they discolored and damaged the papers and other items they were meant to secure. Then an inventive American rubber band company, Alliance, came along. It was founded in 1917 by William Spencer -- the guy who came up with banding newspapers to keep them from blowing across lawns.
Over the years, Alliance has been at the forefront of creating over 2000 innovative rubber bands, including oversized bands for folders and papers (as well as keeping garbage bags from falling into cans), X-Treme file bands for securing large piles of archival paperwork, and (believe it or not) aromatherapy rubber bands.
Got latex allergies? Fear germs? Alliance is also a great source for bright orange latex-free and cyan blue anti-microbial rubber bands for schools, offices and other workplaces.
Bands for office organizing have never been known for their cool factor, and awareness of traditional file-oriented rubber bands has always trended towards drab office-supply basics. There have been a few exceptions:
The Container Store has its line of File Bands. Seven inches long when flat, they're made of UV- and ozone-resistant, latex-free Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). Say that three times quickly and you'll feel like someone snapped some rubber bands at your lips! They only come in green, and run $3.49 for a package of ten.
A little more upscale, the Museum of Useful Things has its own 7" latex-free, extra-durable File Bands, also made of EPDM rubber, in black or neon green. ($5.50 for a box of 25.)
Today, we'll be looking at a plethora of colorful, durable, shape-shifting, rubbery organizing options.
4-way rubber bands are also called H bands because of their appearance when not stretched.
4-way bands can be found at a wide variety of office supply, library supply and specialty stores. They come in multiple colors, including blue, red, yellow, green and brown, and are most often found in 8", 9" and 10" dimensions.
Particularly nice are the 4-way rubber bands from the Museum of Useful Things shop. They come only in red, packaged in generic-chic take-out lunch bag packages of ten, for $6.
Although primarily a utilitarian tool, 4-way bands hit the big time after a 2004 Humble Masterpieces exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since then, the brightly-colored Rubber X-Bands (in two sizes, 3" x 1/2", 5 3/4"x 1/2") have been bestsellers at the MoMA Store ($5) and are popular on Amazon ($6 for a box of 16).
In addition to banding together files and paperwork, H bands are popular for securing game and puzzle boxes to prevent ancient cardboard containers from springing leaks.
Bundlebands go the traditional rubber band one better. The company explains that when regular rubber bands are cut from the ends of rubber tubing, the natural grain of the rubber runs across the band's width. Because of this, when you stretch the band, you open the grain. As rubber dries and oxidizes, the lifespan of the band is shortened. Hence those startling SNAPs, causing your bundles to shift and your office-mate or cat to get thwacked.
Conversely, Bundlebands are cut with the grain running with, rather than against, the length of the band, so when you stretch it, the grain closes, forestalling drying and oxidation, and increasing the life of the band.
Bundlebands also have a small metal clamps to maintained equalized tension and prevent your bundles of files or packages from shifting.
Bundlebands come in four color-coordinated sizes: 8" red, 9" brown, 10" blue and 11" green. You can purchase bags of 10, 25, 50, or 100, directly from the company, or via selected specialty dealers, like FilingSupplies.com and Kleer-Fax.
If you're curious to see how they work, Bundlebands will send you a sample.
Remember our friends at Alliance? They developed the nifty Corner-to-Corner™ bands. Each is made from from one continuous piece of rubber, with no clips or hooks, and is stretchable from 8 1/2" to 24". The band can fasten over all four corners of whatever papers or items you're securing. Packages of three bands run about $2-$5 at online office supply stores.
Meanwhile, the Museum of Useful Things carries Diamond Corner Bands
($6 for a box of ten) to put a slightly different twist on corralling all your papers or files without squishing them.
BEAUTY OF THE BANDS
The Martha Stewart Home Office™ With Avery™ line has developed two types of bands. The first, the X-Band, in red, measures 3 1/2" x 8 1/2" and comes six to a package for about $4. It's designed to gather stacks of papers or files for safekeeping, just like the other criss-cross bands, above.
But Martha and Avery step it up with their Fabric Elastic Bands. These wide fabric bands stretch to secure binders, scrapbooks, and albums, as well as papers and files, and keep items from springing free of their enclosures. They run about $4 for a pack of two, and come in grey and a turquoise-blue.
Check out the little video to see these products in action.
While Martha's understated bands will do the job, the award for snazziest bands surely goes to russell + hazel for their extraordinarily pretty varieties of super-strong, heavy-duty, 10 1/2" x 9/16" russell+hazel Rubber Band sets. Secure binders or stacks of papers, tether notebooks to homework assignments, or create your own "gift garnish" with these designer bands.
The patterns come in Pop Art, Black and White, Sugar, Sugar, Dots + Abstract, Aviation Nation, Bonnie + Clyde, and Geo + Bloom, left to right, below:
Originally $8 for a set of two, Paper Doll found that all sets are currently on sale for $4.
Innovative Czech stationer Papelote has designed spiral notebooks with built-in elastic bands. These 8 1/4" x 11 3/4" notebooks (available with blank, narrow-ruled, graph or dotted paper) are banded with looped elastics to keep notebook covers closed and hold pens, pencils, pen-style flashlights and other similar tubular tools.
Papelote also sells notebook covers and other accessories with these nifty bands.
Papelot banded spiral notebooks can be purchased from specialty stores, including Hand-Eye Supply, for $23.
The freestanding Snap-It-Up Organizer from the Metropolitan Museum of Art has six thick, colorful bands with which you can hold and organize messages, pens, appointment cards, and other desk doohickeys.
Although it's no longer available from the MoMA, you can buy it for about $13 from Amazon, or make your own with a clear cookbook holder or plastic picture frame and a set of russell + hazel or Martha Stewart bands.
Speaking of Martha, you and your kids (or your inner child), might like to take a stab at this DIY Rubber Band Message Board from Martha Stewart Crafts.
And finally, to make sure you have some ideas on where to keep your rubber bands aside from giant balls or the boxes in which they came, check out organizing maven Jeri Dansky's How To Hold Rubber Bands.
posted on: 7/31/2012 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.
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