Car Wrap

Toys are ubiquitous at Christmas. Why not a wrap that aspires to be a toy? Such are the thoughts a wrap artist may be driven to entertain on the 23rd of December.

I used a shiny blue mylar with built-in swirly pattern. The wheels are aerosol-can lids. I used pieces of corrugated box to make special gluing hardware whose job it was to make the lids attach to the thin and flexible mylar.

The windshield is made of soda-bottle scrap. Red chenille wires outline the windshield and passenger compartment, and make the steering wheel.

The bumpers, grill and headlights are made of fragments of a silvery shopping-bag paper.

The “C” on the hood is the present’s label.

Sliced-Box Tree with Wine-Bottle Bumper

In keeping with my fascination for cubist ideas, I took a small flat box of long proportion and drew a line from one corner to its opposite corner. I then placed the box on the table of my scroll saw and cut the box in half. By rotating one of the halves and joining it to the other with two pieces of tape, applied to the pointiest ends, I had a box shaped like a christmas tree.

I wrapped the box with paper from a large marketing flyer that had lots of solid black areas. This kind of coated paper makes easy folds and creases. With care I slowly folded with gentle finger work and trimmed with occasional scissorwork. I taped the folds and had a nicely wrapped black tree.

Next I took one of those green-plastic web sleeves that they put on one’s wine bottles to keep them from hurting each other, and trimmed it to wrap around the box. Its dimensional grid added symbolic pine branches, and, coincidentally, matched the angles of my sliced box.

Since the plastic was not large enough to cover the whole wrap, I was left with a triangle of space at the bottom. I added a patch of red metallic shopping-bag paper.

I thought the tree needed a star. I cut it from gold ribbon and mounted it on a small piece of twist-tie using hot glue.

And I finished the wrap with initials made with my ancient supply of rub-off type.

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.

Aerosol Lid Wrap


I thought of this one while lying in bed early one morning. I have been saving the plastic lids from shaving cream and deodorant for a while. Some are simple solid colors. Others have a metallic look. They are simple, flexible and tough. I have been using them as feet on boxy packages.

The idea here is speed and elegance. Pop the small gift (in this case a gift card) into the two lids. Join them together with tape. Wrap a piece of ribbon around the join and tape it shut too. Stick on a bow. Write the label on an office dot. You are done.

Of course, you will have given a proper amount of thought to the concept of contrast while knocking out this quick wrap. In this instance the tape contrasts in color and form with the smooth plastic caps; one has color and no pattern; the other has pattern and no color. The ribbon also avoids color and has a fair amount of texture, compared to the lids.

PS: if you run the initial tape join all the way around the two lids,  this wrap is waterproof and will even float, should you go overboard in rough seas.

Soda-bottle Gift Bag

soda-1Today I made a birthday gift wrap for Linda using the poster-child material of the recycling craft world, the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) soft-drink bottle.

I lopped off the top and, using scissors, cut vertical slices down to within 2-3 inches of the bottom of the bottle.

I massaged and rolled the resultant leaves tightly between thumb and finger, pulling the leaf slowly downward, while just avoiding forcing an actual fold into the newly-bent plastic.

I waited until this leaf bending was complete to trim the tips of the leaves into a more appealing shape than that left by the initial slicing.

Now it was time to place the gift. I loosely wrapped the box in tissue, and, since the gift’s box was a handsome piece of box-making, with a sorely-needed contrasting graphic complexity, I chose to leave part of the box exposed. The emerging box’s linear pattern constitutes the stamen of this wrap-art flower.

Madelaine Packing Tray Wrap

madelaineContinuing my fascination with the transient and expendable plastics of food packaging, I have been saving the flimsy molded materials found inside cookies, and candies. These translucent brown pieces from madelaine packages caught my eye because they look like tall cooking molds.

I took two of them and placed them together, creating four small chambers for four small gifts. Crumpled tissue hides the gifts and is itself partially visible as a texture. A dab of hot glue holds them together. I then made tissue bands and wrapped them around the three spaces dividing the four towers.

I picked some ribbon with a compatible caramel color scheme, and vertical lines to complement the vertical towers of trays.

I cut out some ovals of sparkly red shopping-bag paper and glued them onto the tray-tower tops. They suggest the jellied centers of certain cookies and tarts.

5-pocket Gift Basket

fiverOne day I peeled the labels off a plastic bottle that had held skin cream. I was impressed with the elegant form of this white object. I cut it in half and made a wrap out of it.

I continued to save these specific bottles. This gift-basket wrap is my first attempt at joining a number of them.

I traced a half-circle on the tops of the bottle, cutting the top off with my scroll saw. I had to sand the edges to  remove a burr.

I used a plastic 35mm film can to join the five bottles together. I applied a stripe of hot glue to the side of the film can and joined it to the first bottle. I arranged the five bottles into a pentagonal array, marked the film can, added stripes of glue and, one-at-a-time, joined the five bottles into the basket.

In reference to the floral form, I added five stamen made out of drinking straws with craft foam on the top. Then I stuffed the five pockets and the central well with recycled wrapping tissue.

This wrap accommodates small gifts such as candy, gift cards, pens and pencils, or jewelry.

Take-out Box Samurai

samuraiI’ve been thinking about this one since we brought home some bison ribs from The ( inimitable) Fort restaurant in March. It was a dinner honoring Chips Barry, and presented by Patty Limerick, two of the funniest people in the world. The sharp wit and the excellent meat joined forces in my mind, and when we got home with the night’s extra (not to say spare) ribs in wonderful black foam take-out boxes, I began to see a samurai wrap.

The sides, shoulders and helmet are made from the boxes. The arm protectors, which are visible in this view only because of their three red stripes, are from a coffee-insulator sleeve. The vertical grooved panel is a plastic pencil tray from a Prismacolor boxed set. Black bag-handle string cleans up the lower edge of the package. The gold paper is actual wrapping paper (a scrap). The red and white details are craft foam.

Samurai enthusiasts will, of course, know how far this is from the truth of samurai armor; liberate us from perfection, as Ms. Limerick says. I do plan to make some more samurai wraps at some later date, and will make reference to the many other design details of samurai armor. But this wrap serves the initial vision I had been generating in the weeks since the black-foam take-out boxes passed through our kitchen.

Rock-solid Wrinkle Wrap with Bake-pan Aluminum


Aluminum is a beautiful material. Yet it is one that passes routinely through our lives, used, ignored, and trashed. When I recently cleaned up an aluminum bake pan that had held a wealth of barbecued buffalo ribs left over from a banquet I organized at The Fort, I tried to roll it out flat, as I have often done with regular aluminum foil. But I could see that I did not have the right tool to flatten this substantial piece of aluminum.

So instead I decided I must embrace the wrinkles. Using my old trasher scissors, I cut a rectangle for wrap. I added a few more wrinkles. Then, with the help of a metal ruler, I wrapped the box in the traditional way, sustaining only two cuts from aluminum’s eager edge. I hot-glued the ends shut.

Experiments brings surprises; the resulting shiny, wrinkled wrap was remarkably dimensionless. Clearly I needed more elements to the wrap. So I cut a strip from the bake pan’s lid and tried out yet another experiment I had been thinking of;  I put the strip through my oil-paint tube-crimper. That made the shiny ribbed band you see wrapped first around the package. It made a good texture, but the color was too similar, so I added the gold-foil paper band to finish off the package.

More experimentation may be required in this realm of trash aluminum, but this is a good start. This wrap has a substantial heft and texture when held; your fingers will say “This is not aluminum foil!”

Doric Cork-and-Cap Temple Wrap

Cork and Cap Temple

One night while I was washing the dishes (and recycling plastics), my mind was wandering.  I suddenly saw columns made with corks, and capitals on those columns made with milk-carton-caps.

This wrap is what I saw: a Doric temple in recycled materials. I wrapped a flat box using some used wrapping paper, pink with shells. I glued the corks onto the wrap. I glued the white milk-carton tops onto the corks.

Next, I had to construct the triangular roof. I cut pieces of plain cardboard, gluing the triangular pediments on the end of the roof and a base underneath. I wrapped this roof and glued it onto the columns.