Creativity Today

A Different Way to Live Life

Kinetic Sand

Whenever I am in an airport, I make sure to stop at the Brookstone store to check out the latest gadgets. Before a recent trip to London, upon arriving at the airport’s Brookstone store, I noticed a display advertising Kinetic Sand, along with a container full of sample sand that people could play with. I bought it not long after and have not stopped playing with it since.

This Kinetic Sand is much thicker and stickier than sand one can find at the beach, thereby allowing me to pick it up in clumps and arrange it into different shapes or letters without it simply falling through my fingers as if in an hourglass. Of course, these differences in the sand allow it to be used for creative purposes more easily than regular sand; sandcastles and other forms can be created almost instantaneously and additional decorations can be added to these structures after their completion without sacrificing their stability. 

My Kinetic Sand in a storage container.

My Kinetic Sand in a storage container.

If you have read my article on Thinking Putty, then you know I love keeping my hands busy with squishable objects in order to improve my concentration and relieve stress. Therefore, I was delighted to find a new product to play with, especially one so associated with a stress-free, happy life.

In Japanese Buddhism, Zen Gardens — small, rectangular spaces filled with sand, rocks, and small trees and bushes that are organized in a specific way — are commonly used to promote connections with nature and discovery of the meaning of life. Interestingly, in these gardens, the sand on the ground is meant to be raked, symbolizing the movement of water, which in turn often symbolizes cleansing or a fresh start. Today, it is possible to buy a mini Zen Garden that can be placed at a desk in order to gain the effects of these gardens in our everyday lives. 

A Japanese Zen Garden. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

A Japanese Zen Garden. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Although I have always viewed the sand and putty I play with to be solely a means to an end of relaxation, after doing more research on Zen Gardens, I feel it is important to appreciate the sand and putty itself as being a metaphor for larger ideas in life, such as connections to nature. Therefore, as I run my fingers through my Kinetic Sand, I cannot help but feel this deeper connection, and I can clearly picture myself sitting on the beach on a hot summer’s day, feeling completely relaxed as I play with the sand around me.

Creative Challenge:

Buy Kinetic Sand or a Zen Garden and try to use it as often as possible. Discover for yourself whether these sands make you feel more relaxed or connected to nature — or if you have an entirely different, albeit positive, reaction. 

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What was your reaction to the sand? If you enjoy playing with putty as well, do you enjoy playing with sand more or less? Comment below to discuss.

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Thinking Putty

A few days ago, I received “Thinking Putty” as a gift. I opened its plastic wrapping and tin container and was ecstatic to find a giant mound of purple putty, which I immediately started squishing in my hands. Since I received this putty, I have not put it down or stopped playing with it, even when I was doing my homework, walking home from school, and writing this blog post.

Needless to say, I have loved putty my entire life, whether it’s in the form of Silly Putty, artists’ erasers, sticky tack, and, now, Thinking Putty. For me, keeping my hands busy with putty serves both as a means of maintaining concentration and defeating stress, as well as a constant source of entertainment — for I always have the opportunity to make a sculpture of a human head, an animal, or an abstract shape.

Elephant made of Thinking Putty

Elephant made of Thinking Putty

But, it is more than just these aspects that make playing with putty one of my favorite daily experiences. I also love listening to the slight popping sound it makes when I quickly pull it apart (of course, unless I pull it in a certain way, it is completely silent), as well as watching it change from thick to thin and from short to long as I mold it into different shapes.

Other great elements of putty include: its portability (the mounds of putty are small enough to carry around, although I often take smaller pieces with me throughout my day); its constant state of readiness (it never dries out); and its appropriateness for most situations and locations (for example, it is easy to use silently while watching a movie). Its versatility makes it a perfect companion.

My collection of Thinking Putty

My collection of Thinking Putty

The history of putty, particularly Silly Putty, has a long and circuitous route. Although the scientists involved in making Silly Putty failed in their initial attempts to invent a rubber substitute during World War II, when rubber was in short supply, Silly Putty finally became an incredibly popular item for both adults and children through ingenious marketing, serendipity, and a lot of good luck. Happily, for adults and children alike, as the song “The Roses of Success,” from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, reminds us, “from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success.” And thus, this wonderful putty, and all its successors — including Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty, was born.

My name made out of Thinking Putty

My name made out of Thinking Putty

I strongly believe that this putty is the embodiment of creativity, for there are an almost infinite number of shapes you can mold it into and purposes you can use it for. Playing with it helps enhance my thought process as well, for, often when I am writing, the mindless stretching of the putty allows me to collect my thoughts, thereby making me even more creative.

Creative Challenge:

Buy any form of putty, whether it is one that I mentioned above or one that you have discovered yourself. Play with it as much as possible and discover new creations you can make and purposes it can serve. The possibilities are endless.

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What is your favorite aspect of putty? What shapes have you created? Comment below to discuss.

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