Having your hand or arm stamped with ink at an event at your local community centre, rec hall or pool, used to be the norm. When you visit your local rec centre or pool today, you are more likely to be given a colourful 3/4" tyvek band to wrap around your wrist and join tightly with adhesive. A different colour or pattern is chosen daily, selected from an extensive collection used to indicate whether or not a visitor has paid the entrance fee for a particular day. These bands are strong, waterproof and in my experience never wear or fall off until intended and usually need to be cut off.
While looking at my wristband one day, I was reminded of the gum wrapper chains we made as kids. We used to collect paper wrappers on sticks of gum from anywhere we could find them, including those we were given or lucky enough to find on the ground. We then folded them and joined them together to make a delightfully colouful, never ending chain. This was usually an on going summer project - the longer the chain, the better!
Flash forward to 2010, just before the Christmas holidays, skating on a very cold clear night under a beautiful starry night sky on Echo Lake, just north of Whitehorse. I was playing shiny hockey, sort of, in a pair of borrowed skates. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I went way, way, up into the air, and came down hard on the ice, on my left hip... In shock and a haze of pain, I was hauled off the ice and up the hill into a warm house on some sort of cot, and eventually taken into town to the hospital where x-rays determined that my hip was broken. My first break ever...
So began many months of recovery. After surgery to screw my hip back together, it took time and a lot of hard work to get my hip working properly again. About 3 months after the break, I was fully weight bearing and able to walk without crutches or a cane and so began to focus on building strength and mobility by joining drop in fitness classes at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse, up to three mornings a week.
At the end of each day that I had successfully gotten myself out the door to participate in a fitness class, I added my wristband to a chain in a way similar to a gum wrapper chain. The wrist bands became a visual reminder for me of my progress on that difficult journey. Over the months, my chain grew and I healed and eventually I stopped collecting my wristbands and adding them to the chain, and forgot all about it.
This is a long story to introduce how to make a wristband chain, but I thought it might help motivate or inspire someone else along their path!
Step 1: Equipment and Materials!
- Tyvek wristbands (you only need a few to get started )
- cardboard strip (optional)
Step 2: Cut Your Wristband to Length
Remove the wristband from your wrist. It will work better for folding if you use scissors to cut the band off on the join rather than pulling on it to rip it off.
Measure the width of your band (mine was 3/4")
Multiple the width of your strip and by eight, to get the length of strip you will need for each link (mine was 6").
You will make one chain link per wristband.
Select the best section of your wristband and cut a strip the length you need (6").
If you are going to be making a long chain, you can cut a piece of cardboard to this length (6") and keep it as a template to measure your wristbands against, so that you don't have to remember or figure it out again.
Step 3: Fold a Link
Fold your strip in half bringing the ends together, and crease along the fold (photo 1).
Flatten out your strip again and fold each end into the crease line from your first fold and then crease along the new folds (photo 2 and 3).
Finally, bring the two halves together along the middle fold to finish your first link (photo 4).
Step 4: Join Links Together
After you have made a few links following the instructions in step 3, you are ready to start your chain!
Take your first link in one hand, holding onto the end with the single fold and leaving the end with two folds free.
Take a second link and slide its two folds into the two sides of the first link - one folded end will go through each of the folded loops on the first link (photo 2 and 3).
Snug your second link up to the top of the first link with the centre crease against the edge of the first link, the folded sides fully inserted (this will give you enough room to slip the next link in).
Take your third link and slip its two folded ends through each side of the second link (extending through the first link) from the bottom.
Step 5: Build Your Chain
Continue adding links in this way and build your own chain just for fun, or to help motivate you or your family to heal or get more active!