Over the holidays a white plastic take-out food box turned up in our kitchen. It’s one of a new style of take-out box. Not the white closed-cell foam variety. It had a textured surface with rounded crenillations. It had two simple closure snaps. It had a square, raised protrusion in the center of the lid. There was something 19th century about its shape and detail. It only lacked some fabric complexity and a bit of metal.
I added grey cords taken from shopping-bag handles, gluing them into a molded groove in the box lid’s outer edge. Next, I added the red ribbon which surrounds the crenillations. I added some silver shopping-bag paper trim: a square with rounded corners in the central embossed medallion, and two little folded pieces on top of the closure snaps, to simulate metal hardware.
With the gift inside resting on tissue paper, I snapped the box shut and wrapped a piece of blue gauze ribbon around it all. I added the label sticker. It is hard to capture the odd charm of this wrap in a single photo. Humor plays a part in this wrap as a utilitarian box shifts into a new context.
This began with my stash of orange-juice-carton caps. Two caps make eyes. Two make ears. I reached for a large piece of silver paper which I had recycled from a particularly fancy shopping bag and wrapped the present’s box. I already had a vision of the robot’s mouth; I rendered it in red craft foam and added a black piece to give it dimension.
I spent some time positioning the eyes, from wall-eyed to narrow. Each position has an emotional impact. There are few more powerful templates in our brains than the face templates we build as infants. Adding the ears was easy.
My method for gluing on caps is based on the fact that hot glue will flow. I add two medium dabs of glue on the inner edge of the cap. I place it on the wrap surface. I wait. The glue inside the cap flows down and bonds with the surface. It stays pretty warm inside the cap; give the glue some time to solidify.
Making and gluing the mouth is simple. In fact this is a very simple, quick wrap overall, and one with the potential for many variations.
Things got a little busy on the afternoon of the 24th. I had to return to roots of wrap art: speedy work with just enough play to keep it lively. I wrapped this box with fragments from the recycle closet.
Then I remembered that in my box of juice and milk caps were some big, shiny caps from spray deodorants. I had saved them thinking they could make excellent legs for wrapped presents, short stubby legs like those one finds on couches, sideboards and other load-bearing furniture. I put two blobs on each cap, turn the cap upside down and place it on the wrap. The hot glue is still fluid. It slides down the sides of the cap and flows onto the wrap. You have to put the package aside and let the glue cool down; the cap insulates the glue so it takes a few minutes.
The leg/caps are made of a shiny, slightly mettalic plastic, and quickly loose any sense of their source as they join in this new context.
Why is the bow on the side? And a fold-end side too? At first I tested it on top of the package. It looked ok. But when I put it on the end, it had more the feel of a formal bowtie, on the shirt of the red paper. An alternate reading, in response to the shirt legs, is that the bow is either a head or tail of this strange creature.
In keeping with my animal wraps this season, here is one that resembles that bane of coral-reef surfers: the sea urchin. The base wrap is silver paper from a fancy shopping bag. The black sticks are coffee-stirring straws, which I saved from a recurrent meeting that I organize. I cut them in half.
There are a lot of straws here. The technique requires that one places six to eight dabs of hot glue onto the paper at a time, allowing the glue to cool. That way you can place the straws quickly and not have to hold them in position. This is not a quick wrap. But it has a distinctive feel, and one that is much friendlier than real sea urchins.
I started this wrap with a scrap of a favorite wrapping paper from seasons past. Recycled at least 3 times, this paper is now in short supply. But I wanted a bold texture to resist and contrast with the very simple symbolic elements that would make the reindeer head. I used thin craft foam to make the antlers, ears, eyes and nose. I drew simple patterns for the antlers and ears, cut them out and traced them onto the foam. I cut the foam with an exacto knife. The label is a simple office label, placed on the end of the wrap, just underneath the deers nose.
Being small and light, this wrap can even be hung on a tree as an ornament.
I’ve been thinking about animal wraps since last year, when I made a robot wrap with popsicle stick legs and arms. So this is my first of the season. The legs, neck, horns and tail are made with a very thick packing foam that I found in my dumpster last fall. It is .5″ thick, and thus is capable of bearing an impressive weight when made into legs. It is also very easy to cut.
I am using hot glue, which is almost essential for sculptural wraps. The head is a small wrapped box itself, which could contain a second gift.
Jan Beatty gave us this present for Christmas. She started with a white base wrap and then dug into her wrapping kit for successive layers of ribbon. Three wide ribbons, three thin ones. Red and white is the color theme. She finished with a bow of decorative berries.
This wrap demonstrates the ease and power of ribbon as a wrapping tactic. It’s complexity of texture brings elegance and richness to any wrap.
This is the beginning. I plan to show you my new wraps. And we will all get to read your comments.
This Coconut Foam Wrap, from last year, demonstrates the wrap artist’s joy in pulling odd materials together to make a sculpturally stimulating wrap. I love this wrap for its strangeness and its novel feel.
The gift is sitting inside the half coconut. The round, fuzzy coconut then sits on a piece of blue packing foam. The foam has a texture, too, but it contrasts sharply with the organic, fuzzy surface of the half coconut.
This wrap then adds the conventional wrapping material of ribbons. The white ribbon strains to hold the frivolous coconut in place. The red ribbon wanders on its own spiral, entangling the blue foam and the white ribbon.
I labeled the wrap using two pieces of scrap paper. One is dull red with complex texture. The other is shiny red foil. They slip into wrap right at the point of tension where the white ribbon presses down on the coconut.