The Burning Rubber Story
Let me just say right off the bat that I'm really amused by the fact that I'm making a sex toy from recycled industrial waste. I mean, it's gotta be the only one in the whole world, right? Now that we've got that over with, I'd also like to say that I'm really proud of the tire paddle— I think it's a beautiful design that fulfills it's function masterfully. I've put a great deal of time, research, testing and effort into creating the best possible product I can and I hope that it pleases you.
I'm an artist and designer with a strong interest in recycling, re-use and sustainable materials. Creating art and products which look great, work well and last for generations is the best way I know to make the world a better place. On the other hand, I also like to make stuff that has a bit of an edge to it— just because it's sustainable and desireable, doesn't mean it has to be granola crunchy right? Exactly.
About a year ago, I was trying to think of ways I could incorporate used tires into my work. I had been thinking about this all week when I got a call from a friend who does high end custom furniture and cabinetry. He mention that he was thinking of using his scrap exotic hardwood to make spanking paddles, and Bang! I immediately thought of creating paddles from used tire material.
Although I fell in love with the idea immediately, there were some technical problems. How do I cut the tires? Where do I get a steady supply of material that still has enough tread to look as good as I want it to? What's the best design for the handle? And so on. I played around with a few diffferent designs, but it didn't really come together as quickly as I wanted, and so I shelved it. But the idea wouldn't go away.
It was too perfect: Black, rubber, and the best part was the idea that the tread would leave marks patterned like the tire. On the one hand, it was kind of funny, but on the other hand it seemed like it was exactly what the BDSM crowd would dig. When I bandied the idea around with various friends who were part of that scene, they all thought so too. So I got serious about sourcing material and building some prototypes. After a good deal of trial and error, I've come up with what I think is quite possibly one of the best designs you could ask for in a spanking paddle. I've been lucky enough to find a source for brand new scrap material from a retread factory, so there's no need to worry about where the tire's been…it's straight from the factory. It also still meets my goal of re-using material, since what I'm getting is the left over waste tread.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 250 million scrap tires are generated in the United States each year, not counting another 45 million scrap tires used to make retreads. So many tires end up in landfills that I've heard about ski resorts being built from mountains of trash, where once the land was flat. Even if these paddles are as successfull as I hope, I don't imagine that I'll be able to singlehandedly account for a whole ski mountain worth of used rubber. But I can try, right?
Photo credit: Edward Burtynsky