I was walking in the park when these huge leaves caught my eye. I brought them home. The gift box is wrapped in a piece of advertising. I chose a wristwatch image for its fine details of metal, glass and precise graphic forms. These machined details contrast with the equally complex but organic details in the leaves. I also chose it because autumn leaves are a poignant symbol of the passage of time.
I had two leaves. One I wrapped around the gift, using hot glue to attach it. Then I glued the leaf-wrapped box to the other leaf. I chose this design to contrast the rectangular form of the box with the normal shape of the unbent leaf.
I also chose to use the underside of the leaf because of the complex details of the leaves’ light-yellow veins.
This wrap is very easy to make. But it must be given soon after wrapping, since the leaves dry out rapidly. This effect, of course, adds to the symbolic power of this wrap, emphasizing the preciousness and brevity of the moment. I did not think of this wrap until long after the bright red maple leaves had already fallen, dried up, and lost their color. But there is, hopefully, next year.
Today’s wrap embraces the 21st century’s mandate for greater transparency in all things. I was giving a small sculpture commemorating son Canyon’s 20th birthday, and I had the idea of using the same two-cylinder recycle-wrap design that I had used two weeks ago with shaving can lids. This time I would use PET soda bottles.
I picked two clear ones and cut them six inches above their baseline. I had imagined simply inserting the gift, taping it shut and adding some kind of opaque band around the wrap. But some typical material-plane challenges reared up immediately. It is important to have the two halves aligned with parallel sides. This is hard to do unless you have made the cuts perfectly. I had not, so I used a technique honed while cutting (the) mustard bottles in half to get the last dollops: after the big circum-navigatory incision, I make a small one ninety degrees to it. This allows one to pinch one half of the bottle slightly and push it into the other half. I did this with my soda bottles. They snugged together. They could be taped into one.
But first I put some foam packing peanuts into one half, adding in the gift (a small driftwood and aspen-fragment sculpture of a “20” with red-trimmed crossbar) and then adding more peanuts. It is a little tricky getting the right amount of the foam objects, but at a certain point you can achieve a balance between mobility of the foam & gift and semi-visibility of that gift. I used small pieces of tape to hold the two halves together while adjusting the gift/foam mix. Then I put one large piece all around to seal up the wrap.
At this point began a typical process of trial, error and learn to determine what constituted a good belt of wrapping around this odd object. I tried lots of papers. Patterns lost out to solids, and flat solids lost out to this very wrinkly piece of green mylar, the color a contrast to the red driftwood crossbar that was peeking out through the foam peanuts. I added a simple yellow cotton ribbon and then an oval of adhesive plastic with the recipient’s name written on with a fine marker.
The wrap was definitely a bit goofy looking. So I added a tiny bow on the top, a wrap equivalent to a clown’s over-sized shoes and under-sized hat. I feel I have achieved some significant innovations in this wrap. 1) I have moved the lowly packing-peanut from its usual role of mess-after-the-fact to a new prominence as the equivalent of stage-smoke, both hiding and revealing the lead actor, the gift. 2) I have also found a way to make transparency a viable tactic for the wrap artist; you can see the gift before unwrapping but without abandoning the mystery of what that gift might be.
If you want to see what the sculpture looked like, click here.