It all began with a box and the black paper. The gold pyramids had arrived a few months earlier. The contain pyramidal tea bags. The gold foil was on the inside of these beautiful little boxes. They had no glue, just folds and inserts, so I could unfold and refold them, revealing the foil. I know that ribbon would bring this wrap nearly to completion. I picked a fat one with gold edges. Next I added a thick plastic cap from some cosmetic product, an item that I had saved for a long time.
The wrap looked better standing rather than lying down. But it would not stand up on its own. So added feet. Its label was a stick-on file label.
I found some industrial molded-paper devices, which were made to protect furniture in shipping, in my alley dumpster a number of years ago. I have saved them faithfully, knowing that their time would come.
I placed the gift into the cavity inside and lightly glued the two halves together. I did this before giving any thought to what would happen next. Using occasional dots of hot glue I attached a bit of red ribbon to cover up the join of the two corners. Then I eyed the half circles along the joint and tried out a number of round things, choosing finally some water bottle caps. They are on both sides. This wrap is the same on both sides.
I already had a box of green packing peanuts lying our for the holiday shipping effort. These green beauties, though fragile, had just the right color. In went 12 peanuts, with a dab of glue. Wrap accomplished. And a wrap with a very different look and feel.
Continuing my fascination with packaging trash, and the malleable materials of the meat market, I offer your here yet another yellow-foam wrap. This time I decided follow another fancy of mine: disrupting the form with a 45 degree angle.
I drew lines on the two foam trays, then joined pairs from the four fragments with hot glue, to make two containers with 45 degree open faces. A bit of trimming was required to make them fit. Then I inserted the gift in one side, protecting it with some paper packing, and glued the two halves together.
The trays have words embossed in the middle of their now very-visible undersides. I thought a triangular form would make a useful addition to the design and would cover the words. I cut the long diamond shape from purple paper, folded it on the short axis, and glued it onto the foam box.
Next I glued black woven bag-handle cords along all the glue seams of the yellow box. And I added the two white bows, making risible reference to the traditions of quotidien wrapping.
But I could see it was not done yet. I thought it needed a crest or crown. I grabbed a piece or coral-colored packing foam and a scrap of white paper. I drew, cut and fit the sun-burst form in scrap paper, then traced it and cut it out of the foam. I glued it in place.
The little indentations that occur along the edge of the foam trays now called out for adornment. I cut little triangles of the coral foam scrap, and glued them in place. At last I had it, an exhuberantly odd wrap, ready for the parliament of packages under the tree.
Open a box of chocolates and you find them arrayed in peculiar trays of thin molded plastic. The careful laborious detail and curious shapes of these moldings stand in stark contrast to their humble role as quietly supportive servants, doomed to be ignored and then trashed the moment the last chocolate has been been eaten.
But should you have one or more small gifts, a pair of these trays can have a reprise role as wrap.
At least that is what I thought in the aftermath of a tasty christmas. I joined the two trays with small pieces of two-sided tape, trapping the gift in small pieces of tissue. I then glued an orange shopping-bag handle around the edge; it sat easily in a groove made by the combined shapes of the trays’ edges.
Looking at the eight fluted pedestals of the inverted tray, it seemed obvious that they wanted something to perch on top. I had just received two bags of melted marbles. Their shiny surfaces seemed in sympathy with the shiny black plastic. I glued eight of the pale blue pebbles on the tops of the pedestals, and then added ten of the dark metallic ones — even closer in sympathy with the plastic, but different — around the pedestals’ bases. The dense glass pebbles contrast in mass with the ethereally thin plastic.
Berry packers buy some of the loveliest pieces of throw-away plastic in our world. When these two identical blue boxes passed through our recycling bin, I immediately diverted them into the wrap stash. This is the second one of these blue berry box wraps I have done. The first used foam boxes. This is shiny plastic. But, like its predecessor, it too had indentations that would happily hold transverse ribbons.
I sealed this pair with strips of thin-cut masking tape. That way I could avoid gluing the boxes together and maybe used them again. I then glued a pale orange ribbon onto the masking-tape seal.
There is a rectangular depression in the bottom (now top) of the berry box. It has debossed type. I made this type disappear by cutting and attaching a rectangle of red shopping-bag paper with rounded corners. Then I attached four pieces of contrasting and skinny ribbons: smooth white satin and rough burlap stripe. I did some simple weaving as they crossed on top. Choosing which ribbon to use was the hardest part of the wrap.
The last detail was to attach a small plastic Christmas tree that I had found lying in a path in Washington Park a few weeks ago. Besides being charming and different this wrap is relatively water-proof and even sea-worthy in minor floods.
The idea for this wrap came to me just after awaking. I was thinking about slabs of black foam from meat-packing trays. They are easy to cut, thick enough to hold a lot of hot glue, and thus make good sculpture components to a wrap. I’ve used them before (Meat-Tray Fins on Red Bag Wrap). This time the idea was to cut a slot into the slabs so that they made not only strange fins, but also legs to elevate the package.
Later in the day I wrapped the gift in a large piece of recycled wrapping paper. It’s silver & black houndstooth pattern had a mechnical quality and colors fully compatible with my industrial materials.
Cutting the foam trays involved a bit of guesswork. The trays are small enough that any attempt to make perfectly flat fins would produce relatively small pieces. So I decided to keep at least part of the trays’ rounded shoulders. I inserted my matte knife parallel the trays’ bottom plane, and carefully sliced with a reciprocating motion all the way around the tray. It worked pretty well giving me four round-cornered slabs which had gently-curving faces, resembling the back of an iPad, on one side of the slab.
I made a paper template in the shape of the slabs and then drew and tested the shape of the slot that would allow the fins to be slipped onto the package. It worked very well. Now I could play around with the placement of the fins. I had imagined at first that they would be aligned in parallel as in my first fin wrap. But I became intrigued when I discovered the stability conferred by a symmetrical X configuration.
Before gluing the fins I continued exploratory play looking for something that would sit in the small empty space at the center of the X. My favorite among various objects was an old standby of my recycling materials: a copper metallic plastic lid from an aerosol deodorant.
I used a drafting triangle to regulate the gluing process. Fat strips of hot glue attached the fins to the bottom side of the wrap. Holding the wrap carefully on my knees, I then added glue on the wrap-top backside of the fins. (This wrap is inherently stagey, having an inherent audience-vs-backstage assymetry.) I glued a cross-brace onto the deodorant lid, and then glued it to the center of the wrap.
I was not yet sure if I had a finished wrap. Poking around the bins I found a red lid from a cosmetic jar and glued it to the top of the copper-colored lid. That was it. The wrap was complete. It evoked a strong sense of abstract function. But what, exactly? It was the recipient of the gift who thought it looked like a space module. The wrap sits elevated off floor, table or planet. It has a metallic palette. The curious cupola at its center is of ambiguous scale and purpose. Perhaps it is a big emergency button whose compression would set off a celebration.
Wrapping at the Florence Crittenton High School event this week, I was about to wrap the last gift in my assigned bag. It was a knitted cap. I wanted to put it into a box, but I could see none. They were already cleaning up. I was feeling like I should pick up the pace. The volunteers had outwrapped me in numbers of gifts. I was just finishing my first and only bag of presents.
Undaunted I grabbed a short half of a tube that had once had wrapping paper rolled around it. I took the gift cap out of its plastic bag, and carefully coaxed it into the short tube. I had two full-length tubes and I thought of pick-up-sticks and so I hot-glued the three pieces together. A beginning. It would need more tubes to stand up.
Scanning the adjacent wrapping room, I saw tubes under a table. I scuttled this treasure back to my room and commenced gluing. It takes a bit of patience, letting the hot glue cool down, before you have a structurally sound tube tangle. I waited, holding and tapping my foot, tempering my haste.
I said out loud, “What will I add for trim on the ends.” Jennifer (not Jenifer, if you have read the Purse Wrap post) said, “Bows! There’s a whole box of them.” I crimped the ends of the tubes. I glued the bows. The volunteers cleaning up kept at their work. But at last I was done. A hasty wrap, but distinctive nonetheless. The gift is behind the green bow.
The foam trays of meat packaging have a subtle beauty that emerges once they have been gussied up enough to obliterate their low-caste role in our lives. In this case I have taken the gussying process so far that you can barely see that beauty as the trim takes over.
The first step in foam-tray wrap is easy. Place the gift in a try, just as the butcher places the sausages. Apply little strips of glue along the top of the long edges (the short edges do not actually touch when two trays are placed together) and then apply the second tray face down. Hold to permit the glue to set. Alternately, you can tape the edges, if you plan to cover them with some trim.
For this wrap I had thought I would just run the blue-silver tinsel boa around the edge, my standard technique for transforming the two trays. When the paired edges of the trays disappear, the sow’s ear begins its transformation to silk purse. That change is completed by obliterating the debossed type (manufacterer and recycling info) on the underside of the tray.
Contemplating the wrap thus far, I decided against adding some new contrasting material and began a new round of the same tinsel boa on the shoulder of the tray, feeding the furry forest I saw along the edge. Then I added the silver bow over the debossed type. It becomes the central shrub in this new landscpe.
Some of the beautiful shiny black foam shows through. It is usually a central element of my foam-tray wraps. But here it becomes a subservient but sympathetic dark background to the complex light/dark texture of the mylar tinsel. It’s quite a transformation, from trash to tiara. This gift has a very eager, lively feel. It asks to pick it up and play with it.
Can political advertising be converted into a charming holiday wrap? I just had to try.
I was in New Haven in November and kept seeing posters for Linda McMahon’s run for a senate seat. Being married to a Linda, I enjoyed the politician’s aggressive one-name branding effort, which featured a big “Linda.” I never did manage to get even a photo of her graphics, but a friend in Connecticut, amused by seeing my wife’s name all over his community, sent me one of McMahon’s yard-sign sleeves.
I trimmed it along the three closed edges, making it into two large sheets of plastic. I then angled wrapped one of them over my Linda’s Christmas present, using tape. Then I proceeded to make folded-edge rectangles of used wrapping paper to cover up the exposed areas of underlying box.
If not quite a conversion to gold, my alchemy has at least turned base plastic into something amusing.
All three papers in this wrap came from the purchase of cut flowers. The yellow and green material is some kind of thin felted fiber.
After wrapping the box with the white and purple vine paper, I began folding the yellow paper over onto itself, making it into a ribbon-like wrapping band. The paper had slices and tears in it from the way the florists cut it to embrace the cut flowers. So I had to use little pieces of transparent tape to stabilize it during folding.
The green paper is actually two fragments joined by tape. The tape join was hidden by sliding the green band under the yellow.
I chose the offset positioning of the bands to add a dash of asymmetry to what is ultimately a very traditional wrap. And then I made a quick drawing of the recipient’s initials; I cut that design out of black paper. I fastened it with rolled tape to the yellow band, positioning it uphill from the bands’ intersection.
This wrap represents the enrollment of typical throw-away materials into an easy interpretation of traditional wrapping.