Time was running short on Christmas Eve, so I resorted to the most efficient of wrap art tactics: band wraps. You do not need paper big enough to cover the whole gift box. You just keep adding bands till you’ve got the look you like. Another element of speed in this particular instance, was that I had a beautiful black box with a fold-over lid with magnetic closure. So I did not have to wrap the ends; Three bands of folded tissue paper, with contrasting patterns and colors, are simply taped to the back of the box. I included numbers on the tape (masking tape with folded-over ends for easy pulling) to guide the recipient to an easy open. I then added a yellow ribbon to complete the wrap and give a better platform for the pale beach rock I had just decided to add to the mix. I wrapped a small piece of green Christmas ribbon around the rock and hot-glued the rock and ribbon to the yellow ribbon. If placed vertically, the rock-and-ribbon leaned a bit out and down, so I added tiny triangles of white foam underneath the rock, top and bottom, to reduce any motion.
I love the dried leaves that carpet the autumn pathways. I began preparing for this wrap a while ago. And I added new leaves right up to the day I made this wrap. I have used large green leaves in the past. They can be shaped to the package. But what would allow me to use brittle dried leaves. I decided that I would try foam stilts to lift them free of the underlying wrapped box. I cut short pieces of white foam and hot-glued them onto individual leaves. When they cooled and were stable I trimmed the bottoms to make them stable and free-standing with three legs. Then I glued them onto the white-wrapped gift box. I added some that had only two legs, raising them higher that the initial batch of leaves so that the collage had a feeling of being airborne. Eventually there were enough to call it a finished composition.
Merry Astro Turf
The plastic turf fragments turned up this summer in my ever productive alley. I had been waiting for them to have a purpose. Last week their first mission became obvious: turf wrap. It is green (half of the seasons branding colors). It is unexpected. It is inherently silly.
It is also hard to cut. But I persisted and got my rectangle for the lid of this gift’s shipping box. I covered the box with the brown-dot paper in such a way that the lid can still be opened. No need to rip up the wrap. One piece of paper covered three sides of the box. And a fourth piece I glued on the flap of the lid. Next the astro turf went on top. I chose a red ribbon with the gold trim; it provides that sense of traditional wrapping aesthetics. And of course red is the second seasonal brand color not to mention the complementary color of green.
I had been testing the shiny red ball all along as a component to complete the grass box top. While searching for another shiny object I found the golf ball. I paused for a bit, resisting the natural symbolic affinity of ball and grass. I finally gave in and placed it in the composition. Then it occurred to me that the red ball would gently confuse the reference to golf by hinting at “snowman.” I added the label and was done!
I collected a handful of twigs that had fallen off their trees during a recent icy snowstorm. My intention was to replace two damaged twigs on an old pine-log reindeer christmas sculpture. But two other twigs from our backyard proved better. When it came time for the first wrap of the season, I thought these twigs might make a fine “bow” when bundled together with ribbon and place cross-wise on the long white box of the gift.
But that idea proved wrong in execution. The bundle of twigs never looked elegant. The twigs were awkward with each other. When I paused to ponder new design vectors the twigs piped up with “legs,” a wonderful but often overlooked wrap tactic.
I then made a wrapper for the box, using the white bag in which the gift’s source store had made the delivery to me. The wrapper covered only nlne of the gift’s eleven inches length and used no glue or tape on the gift’s box. That meant that the box could be slid out of the wrapper quickly and effortlessly, with no ripping or tearing.
I divided the sides of the box-and-wrapper into sixths, marking the five spots that separated those sixths. I began hot gluing the legs onto the box. Once they had cooled, I trimmed them to a common length from the bottom of the box. I could then stand up the whole rig, stand back and judge the result.
I felt it could use some color. So I cut up ribbon fragments —purple, teal, red, and gold— to become abstract leaves. I glued them on, examining both sides as I went.
For the label, I made a strip of typography, printed it out, and cut it into a ribbon. I folded the ends and tucked them into the ends of the white wrapper.
Fur Bearing Wrap
A very small package can have lots of impact. I wrapped the gift with foil paper. I cut four legs from my twig stash and glued them directly to the wrap. Next I reached into my odd materials bin and pulled out a scrap of fur that had been waiting for its moment. With a few dabs of glue I had the latest addition to my critter wraps collection.
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.
While cleaning the kitchen one day, I consolidated an excess of plastic knives, spoons and forks. The beauty of multiples forced me to save them in plastic bags. The knife bag went into my wrap warehouse.
On Christmas day my son was attending to his last-minute wraps, and I volunteered to wrap one of his smallest presents.
I gave it a white-paper wrap and then began gluing plastic knives onto the box. I looked upon them as lines or strokes, and began creating a constructivist composition of angles. I had planned, and still do plan, to glue on a lot more of them. But we ran out of time and so this was my wrap. The dense-pack knife wrap awaits some future opportunity. In the meantime, the relatively sparse application of knives works quite well, and perhaps better honors its derivation in Russian artists.
Zen Table Wrap
The wrap began as I rummaged through my wrap paper drawer and discovered an old type catalog, “X-Height.” It’s tall large page size, each page with a grid of square type samples, offered a paper suitable for small boxes, and one that was rich in non-repeating graphic forms.
I wrapped the present. However, the end folds did not quite cover each other, so I reached into the ribbon box, and retrieved a wide orange ribbon. I like to use ribbon on the small sides of a wrap; it provides more color and a texture change, but it leaves the stage empty for sculptural play.
Next I glued on four wine-cork legs. Raising a wrap on legs has an amusing and quietly transforming effect on any gift. The resonance with tables and benches lifts the wrap away from the metaphor of storage or inventory and places it into the non-wrap realm of furnishings.
At this point I did not have to place anything on this table. The paper’s symbol-filled square were amply entertaining. But I was having fun, and began to play with the variety of wood and rock materials cluttering my studio. A pedestal of sample engineered bamboo felt good sitting on the type-sample wrap. I then tried numerous rocks and twigs until I finally settled on the flat gray “label” rock and its companion, a shiny black rock. I added the name of the recipient in white colored pencil, and glued all three pieces onto the table wrap.
Coffee-cup insulators are made of a delightful small-scale corrugated paper. I think of it as the elegant cousin of the corrugated cardboard that so much of our gifts travel about in during their busy lives, before and after wrapping.
This wrap sought to integrate that material into the vocabulary of wrap. I thought some scraps of silver paper constituted a perfect contrast to the flat, plain color and dimensional complexity of the coffee cardboard. I wrapped the ends of the gift with two pieces. I added some solid green, contrasting in darkness and low reflectivity to the silver. Then I added the two bands of cardboard.
Blue gauze ribbon, placed in wrap’s traditional 90-degree style, brings yet another note to our chord of textures. I did not want to cut the ribbon scrap, so I overlapped it with an offset, emphasizing its transparency and gaining two additional visual lines in that plane.
The name tag is an office-supply folder label.
Round Wrap in Pie-bin Bottoms
Pies from our Whole Foods come in marvelous molded-plastic containers. Put the bottom halves from two of them together and you have a strange round device that resembles some kind of off-road tire, or perhaps the base form of a dark space ship.
Those two pieces of black plastic are glued together using 1-inch-long pieces of popsickle sticks. They are hot-glued into little slots conveniently located around the molded shape of the pie-bin bottoms
I next made the feet for this wrap using four lids from aerosol deodorants. Their plastic is metallic adding more machine aesthetic to this peculiar wrap.
I glued a sequence of bottle caps on ten of the twenty raised knobs that ring the pie bottoms’ flat central circle, adding to the visual theme of circles. Their detailed design and printing enriches the design by bringing a finer level of detail to the complex but larger forms of the black plastic.
It actually took a while to figure out what to put in that central, flat circular space. I cut out various magazine-ad photographs and also fragments of wrapping paper and art paper. Nothing seemed to be compelling. I finally decided to use my own photography. I made a circular crop of a photo I took last week while hiking in the Comb Ridge of southern Utah. I added a black “inner glow” in Photoshop. I printed it, cut it out and glued it into the circular recess.
In order to spare the recipient the potential anxiety of having to destroy such a curious sculpture, I cut out the circular recess on the back side and made it into an access door closed with simple tape fixtures.