- Associated Press - Sunday, February 19, 2017

RUSTON, La. (AP) - Will Love’s dream of breaking a Guinness World Record takes shape nightly through loop knots formed into chains of rubber bands wrapped around a garden hose collector until they can be added to his 230-pound rubber band ball.

It’s his second. The first ball began in middle school after he purchased the Guinness Book of World Records at a book fair.

“I started that one with aspirations of trying to be in the Guinness Book of World Records,” Love said. “That has always been a goal of mine to have a record and be remembered for something in life.”

As a teen, limited funds meant limited access to the raw materials - rubber bands - needed for construction. The ball stabilized at 50 pounds and has remained at that weight since Love left for college.

The second ball started on March 11 of last year. Love said it was a way to pass the time until one day he saw the current record holder, Joel Waul, discussing how he crafted a new ball to beat his own 9,032-pound record.

“When I saw that the current record holder mentioned wanting to break his own record and he was teaming up with a company from India, I wanted to keep it in America and I just started from there,” Love said. “I bought what (rubber bands) I could afford and reached out to Alliance to see about expediting the process.”

Now he has access to all of the raw materials he needs courtesy of the Alliance Rubber Co., and progress of up to 10 pounds of bands crafted into a chain per night is possible.

He chose Alliance based on its history and the fact that their products are made in America. Alliance is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and is the largest rubber band manufacturer in the country, producing 18 million pounds of rubber bands each year in a variety of sizes and colors.

“I want to start incorporating red white and blue on the ball,” Love said. “…I want to keep it made in America.”

At 230 pounds, the ball remains less than two feet tall and can be rolled through Love’s home, which sits on a concrete foundation. As it increases in weight and size, new digs for the ball will be a necessity, and Love is looking at his outdoor patio as a possibility. Long term - after the ball is completed - he would like it to go to a museum where it can be viewed by an appreciative public.

Neighbors and co-workers are intrigued by Love’s hobby, but his family only recently realized he was serious about pursuing the record. To stay motivated, Love said he shares pictures of his progress on Instagram and with the Alliance Rubber Co., which tracks his progress on a blog.

Love said his wife keeps him from popping rubber bands at visitors, but his hobby can be a source of personal pain when a chain of multiple bands slips.

“I have had marks on my fingers, welts on my legs, across my chin and feet. It’s painful,” Love said. “I’ve got three, four rubber bands in each loop, so there is a lot more force behind them.”

At the end of his journey, Love said he would like to visit the Alliance Rubber Co. in Hot Springs, tour the facility and meet the individuals who have assisted him along the way.

By that time he will have used more than 6 million rubber bands to make his ball. Each will have found its way to Ruston after starting life as natural rubber in Vietnam or Thailand.

Jason Risner, director of business strategy at Alliance, said the rubber band manufacturing process begins in these locations with a group of people who go out every morning and cut a swath around a rubber tree. Latex runs down the swath and is collected at the rate of a cup per day per tree. One tree will give off latex for approximately 28 years.

Alliance Rubber Co. purchases this material in 75-pound blocks and mixes it with chemicals to make it last longer and increase pliability. Batches are produced in 500-pound increments inside a mixer.

When the mass, which Risney said has the consistency of a bread dough, falls out of the mixer, it is flattened on a mill and cut into strips which are fed into an extruder machine that creates a tube resembling a hose. The tube is cured and becomes rubber bands.

Each year Alliance produces enough rubber bands to circle the Earth 23 times - perhaps the ultimate rubber band ball vision.

___

Information from: The News-Star, https://www.thenewsstar.com


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