Thinking Putty in the Cube Farm: free range or caged

Various companies like Think Geek and Crazy Aaron's sell palm sized blobs of  "Thinking Putty" as a thinking aid, as a form of stress relief and as nervous energy sink.  Once released into an office, you will find people subconsciously picking up their putty to pull, knead, squeeze and fold it while working on projects or while in discussion.

Putty has some odd properties.  It can be squeezed and shaped. It can also bounce like a rubber ball. It is solid but acts sort of like a very thick liquid.  Sculptures made out of the putty start slumping immediately and end up as a pool of putty within hours.  Putty can be pressed and worked but can also be torn as if it is a solid.

Putty, comes in fun colors with and effects.  It can be plain, UV sensitive, glow in the dark, magnetic and heat sensitive.  The can at the right is heat sensitive, changing color from orange to yellow when warmed by friction, body heat or by some other heat source.

Caged or Free Range

I personally recommend penning your putty at night.  Its just going to damage itself or something if it is left to its own devices at night.You don't want your putty working into every crevice after leaving it on your keyboard at night.. 

Putty comes in a can that keeps it safe and clean.  It is usually best to leave putty kenneled in its shipping container at night.  The putty in the picture at the right was just dropped into the its pen.  It will spread out covering the whole bottom of the container by morning.

Some folks insist on leaving their putty on the desktop or some other place.  This invariably leads to trouble with the putty running into other items in the area.  

The next two pictures show some putty that has run into a pack of cube clips and post it notes.  You can see that the putty has filled all available crevices. We were able to fix this situation by hanging the mess above a desk. The putty eventually all dripped/ran to the table top dropping its connection with the other objects. This will not work for some surfaces like hair and clothing.

Young versus Old Putty

Thinking putty never really wears out.  I've had a couple cans for over 10 years.  It does start to look and feel old as it picks up contaminants like dust, hair and dirt.  This is especially true if you bounce it off the floor , drop it a lot or use it with dirty hands.

The two cans to the right are the same product with 10 years difference in age and usage. The one on the left still changes color with heat. It just isn't as noticeable.  The new one on the right is significantly brighter and more obviously changes color from orange to red


Thinking putty is an awesome work place item.  Keep it penned at night. Don't let it free range across your desk and gear.  Keep it out of stuff you will have a hard time separating from the putty.



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