Transparency in Wrapping

soda-reveal-2Today’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.