While cleaning some recycle-ables during kitchen clean up, I became fascinated with the lego-like textures of a black poultry tray. I saved two. The first step was to create a foam and tissue cradle for the gift. I then sealed up the two trays with four spots of glue. I moved on to the contemplative phase of the piece. I place various pieces of ribbon adjacent to see what felt good. I considered other material additions too, natural or man-made objects.
I decided to use mostly ribbon and ran a silver ribbon around the seam that joins the two trays. Next came the two gold ribbons, followed by the blue ribbons. I tested out various colors and textures before committing. I knew that I would be using the green and red ribbon as the transverse element. On it went.
Part of the beauty of these trays are the complexities of their topology. There are protrusions that define where the ribbons cross; they define the number and position of the ribbons. So my next step was to glue small pieces of red paper to emphasize these curved shiny shoulders.
The last step was the label. I had wanted some extra sculptural element, as noted above. I chose a wooden sphere, and sanded a flat spot on it to make attaching it easier. I wrote the recipients initials, and double-taped it on.
The wrap began with a curious piece of cast-paper packaging from a shipment of Moo business cards. The white tray had two regions, one to hold a box of cards and the other held three groups of unboxed cards. I placed the gift, small and made of cloth, into the first region, where you now see the green corrugated paper.
I then proceeded to make a completely abstract wrap, using small scraps of paper: red foil-stamp tissue, blue-background japanese paper, and the green corrugated piece covering the gift. I then made the orange ribbon with alphabet beads to label the gift. I also put some ribbon the right-hand rib projecting up from the back of the white tray. Done.
It was when I went back and added the small blue bow to the japanese “wall paper” that the literal began to seep into my abstraction. The white “mantel” also called out for something, so I added two little jingle bells. I thought I was done. But the “fireplace” began to speak up. I built a foam and twig fire, put in on andirons. It remains an abstract fireplace, to be sure, because the “chimney” is strictly conceptual. I added two candles to the ingle bells. Done.
I needed to wrap some awkward high-country gear, snowshoes. I knew I would have to neutralize their various edges and somewhat-sharp parts. So I wrapped them first in bubble wrap. Then I began apply layers of wrapping-paper scraps. Each piece of paper, long or square was given folded edges, as in creating band wraps. The folding ads dimension and and hint of finish to the scrap. Hot glue was my binding medium. I applied the large, and longer pieces first, adding rectangles and skinny bands later. When enough pieces are applied the wrap has stability you do not expect when you apply the first, ungainly pieces.
The skeleton is made of cast paper pieces that are used to protect the corners or edges of furniture being shipped. I discovered them in the alley a fews days before I made this wrap. As soon as I saw them I imagined what they could do: easy to cut, easy to glue. Long, light, rigid and versatile.
I rested the somewhat squishy scrap wrap on my work bench. I studied it with a measuring tape, choosing a length for the long parts. I cut the verticals and lay them upon the wrap. I measured and cut short horizontals, one longer, one shorter, to make the vertical angle inward as the tower rises. Hot glue rapidly joined the four pieces. Once I had a similar second side, I cut four more horizontals and assembled the whole tower around the wrapped gift.
Ribbons on the verticals brought the gift-wrap feeling to the cast-board verticals. But the top seemed incomplete. So I glued pine cones to pine twigs, to make four finials to complete the tower’s architecture. Since the gift had to be carried over the river and through the woods, I attached the pine-cone assemblies using using velcro patches.
I was impressed by the sturdiness of the final piece. And the contrast between the exoskeleton’s linear form and the brecciated patches of the scrap wrap was satisfying.
I designed this wrap for a non-destructive un-wrap. The base is a piece of form and mylar protective wrapping from a new 5k monitor, closed using double-sided tape. I then made feet and short legs using black shipping foam, cut with a matte knife and a jigsaw, glued with hot glue. Next I prepared the opening top access, cutting the silver material to make four flaps, the last (closing door) flap has a strip of red craft foam to signify where to open the wrap. On top, the bot’s “hair” is a strange piece made of two kinds of foam; its provenance and function is lost in the sands of time. I attached it with bent large paperclip to the top, opening flap.
The arms are packing foam from an external usb cd/dvd burner. It has inset craft foam insets, and white craft foam “hands.” I glued red foam coverings for the top and front of the feet.
Last of all I worked on the face. The three eyes are fried marbles. The chest lights/ recipient label are alphabet beads. The mouth is made from craft foam. The total is a spirited wrap.
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.