The Secret of the Kneaded Eraser

They’re squishy and funny and oh-so magical! They’re the kneaded eraser (or kneaded rubber, depending on where you’re from). I was first introduced to these little beauties in college, where they were required supplies for all freshmen art students. At first, I was confused by this blob of grey. What good could this vaguely marshmallow smelling glop do? And then, somehow, after erasing with it, the graphite would magically disappear as I pulled and squished the eraser with a baker’s fervor!

The Secret?
Kneaded erasers are a type of rubber which has been left in its uncured (or unvulcanized) state. Rubber as an industrial material is usually cured with pumice or other substances to make it hard and more durable for use as tires, erasers on pencils, etc. And to think, we were once using bread as erasers before smart forest folk came along and discovered the uses of tree rubber!

The Uses of the Kneaded Eraser
A kneaded eraser has a thousand and one different uses. Here are some of the more popular uses.

Erasing – The primary use. Kneaded erasers are great for lifting up charcoal and lightening color pencil and graphite pencil lines. They’re not known for being able to erase heavy lines due to their softness, but they’re great for creating faded lines and soft effects.

Bouncy Balls – You can roll it into a ball and bounce it around when you’re bored! It’s not abnormally good at bouncing in any predictable direction, but hey when you’re bored, anything is entertaining!

Lewd Sculptures – Once the bouncy ball has ceased to be entertaining, you can make two of them to form a silly pair of eyeballs that look like bewbies! Or try your hand at trying to make a tiny person! Only the most awesome of kneaded eraser sculptors have been able to achieve this monument to miniatureism. You can even have a kneaded eraser tea party!

Pranks – Stick it in someone’s chair for a laugh. There’s nothing like an eraser stuck to someone’s bum to tickle your funny bone! Warning!: you should only do this to friends as a stranger that’s bigger than you might take offense!

Stress Relief – Pretend the eraser is the head of someone you are really annoyed by! Stretching, tearing, pulling it apart, and threatening to torture it if it should refuse to tell you the location of the rebel base are great ways to de-stress AND to clean your eraser at the same time!

Warning, however, that these erasers are not immortal (just nearly). Once they become dark and hard, they are too saturated with graphite to work and may actually leave marks instead of erasing them! An article writer on wikipedia suggests washing the eraser in dish-washing liquid, but I have yet to try this myself.

So what have you done with your kneaded erasers, these days?



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