New Bow

I had no vision for this wrap. It was completely improvised. I started with a mylar sheet that made tiny square spectral-highlights. Then I examined a small rectangle of red and gold foil paper. It had acquired a curl while on the roll. It occurred to me that a small cylinder of this material could become a form of bow, since many bows rely on curves and curls, in contrast to the boxy rectangles they often adorn. I glued the red-gold foil into a stable cylinder. I decided to beef it up with some thick white paper. I made this second tube of paper and placed it inside the foil-paper to test it out. I liked it, including the extra white extending beyond the foil, so I did not trim off the excess. Next, I thought I would focus on the empty space of the new bow’s cylinder. I looked for sticks and dowels that might float along the central axis of the cylinder. I found these knitting needles, retrieved many years ago from the alley. I took a bit of white packing foam and pierced with the needles, placing them at a minor angle of variation, so that the dark green heads were further apart than the pointed ends of the needles. There I had decided I would attach the circular mini-poinsettia, thus locating the “knot” of this new bow way off-center, with only empty space below it. Nearing completion of the wrap I realized that the bow would benefit from being the culmination of an encircling ribbon, a traditional wrap form. I had no more of the red-gold foil tissue. I did have some white tissue with red floral foil. I cut bands, folded their edges to achieve a bit of puff, and attached the two of them perpendicular to the new bow. I made a trip-fold label and glued it to one of of the wrap.


wap art monument

The wrap uses the form of monuments: a rising shape on a stable base. In this case the base, which holds the gift, consists of two white plastic chicken bins, glued together along their parallel top edges. A white ribbon covers the join. The monument that rises up sits on a rectangle of very red Color-aid paper, left over from the Albers color course I took at Yale in the late sixties. The wood is a fragment of aspen that emerged while I was cutting up firewood at the cabin. The label is more Color-aid, glue to a thin and very long culinary toothpick. While the wood’s curving shape and visual complexity draws the eye, the architectural arches of the chicken boxes give an appropriate and honorable support to the monument.

Blue Bottle

I wrapped this 12″ square box with some large paper, a printed proof from a wall-size digital painting. Then I began collaging. I laid various objects on the wrap and eventually settled on a thin blue bottle I had found many years ago. But before I fixed it in place, I realized I needed a dimensional piece to intersect with the bottles end. I chose a black spiral binder spring. I glued it at both ends. Then I finished the bottle with a small red bow to cover the spiral where a bottle cap once sat. I double-taped the blue bottle along a dominant line of the photo wrap. I add glued two little stones on the end of the spiral to give a feeling of finish. I completed the wrap with a white bottle cap and Linda’s initials.


This is an example of accretive wrapping. It starts with a “base coat” of plain paper, applied in the traditional way: a single piece of paper wrapped, with two folded ends.. The first layer of accretion consists of six separates rectangles of imagery taken from magazines and marketing literature.. I cut them out to fit the six sides of the gift box, gluing or double-taping them onto the base wrap. Then I cut and fitted six triangles of stiff paper from printer’s paper samples. These are all glued on the image layer. The wrap can rest on any of the six sides. All views of this wrap are good.

Tri Tubular Wrap

The gift had three parts. In the middle of the night I had the idea of conjoining three boxes. In the light of day it became three tubes. The engineering was challenging. Since the three tubes were to be covered with wrapping paper scraps, I had to figure how to join them without relying on the flimsy wrapping-paper skin as a structural gluing surface. So I drilled holes in the sides of the tubes. I hot-glued six 1″ dowels into the holes. Then I wrapped the three tubes with striped wrapping paper scraps, and then completed the task of gluing three tubes together using their various dowel pegs and holes. It was not easy, and I do not recommend trying this wrapping strategy with angled cylinders. But it did finally come together. I plugged the lower ends with cardboard cross beams and inserted the three gifts into the upper opening of the tubes. I stuffed those upper ends with blue tissue, and added the gold ribbon trim, to give that completing note of wrapping tradition to this non-traditional wrap. When placed amongst wrapped gift boxes it has it own peculiar presence.

Twig Bower

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.

Magazine Wrap

This wrap did not even have a box. I put a gift of notecards between two pieces of corrugated board. Two pieces of tape made them a unit. Then I picked up a magazine that had lots of ads with large photos with tasty textures. I placed the first piece at an angle and proceeded to wrap it, folding the ends and gluing the foldovers onto the back. I then selected another page from the magazine. I positioned it in various ways until I knew what I wanted. I folded the two edges that would be visible on the front of the wrap, and then began gluing the piece into place. Next I took a strip with imagery of marble and folded its edges, making a traditional wrapping band. I positioned it and glued one end. Snugged the other end tight and glued it. I then took, from a jar of alphabet beads, the initials “N” and “S” of the recipient’s name. I glued them on, using a nail to hold the hot glue, and place it on the wrap. I then added the two beads. It is a moody wrap, with a rich materiality conveyed by the continuous tones of the photographs.

2square Mag Collage

I decided it would be quicker to pack this gift between two squares of corrugated cardboard, than to cut out a custom box. My plan uses corks as pillars to create the space for the gift after creating the two square collages. I covered the two squares with paper from a large design magazine whose ads and special features provided a variety of engaging textures. I used my hot glue sparingly and assembled the collages speedily, wrapping the around the edges of the squares.

I used seven corks to separate the squares. Where the eighth cork would have gone along the middle of one side, I left open space, to ease the retrieval of the gift. To keep the gift from rattling around inside and ripping open the paper walls I planned to glue around the edges of the wrap, I hung the gift inside using three lightly-glue corks, placed strategically in the interior. Then I closed up the wrap with four pieces of cover stock pages, cut to the height of the corks. They are glued to the corner corks. One corner has a “pull open here” sticker placed to guide the recipient in un-wrapping.

It looks like a large picture book, except that there is no spine.


This is a classic two-piece wrap. I used a remaining piece of blue Pantone paper on the bottom. Then I reached for a packet of printed American flags that somehow made it into my paper drawer. I chose to use only the stripes, which still left the wrap with a strong hint of flag. I covered the join with a bit of skinny black ribbon. A mini label completes the task.

Shopping Bag with Comb Bow

For the first step wrapping this medium sized gift, I cut down a white shopping bag and wrapped the entire box in it, using hot glue to secure the thick paper of the bag. I put a secondary blue wrap on the bottom, a piece of old Pantone paper. I then took a page from my magazine of the moment, an image with rectangular forms, a person, abstract photo detail and color complementary to the blue. I did not cover up the shopping bag’s branding, because the typography lends the whole composition a poster-like quality. Also the gift’s brand diverges completely from the this bag’s. Wrap Humor. To finish it off I took another magazine scrap and cut slices partway through it. I folded the uncut edge and glued it on top of the wrap. Carefully I shaped the teeth of this comb into gentle curves. The interplay of the rectilinear scrap & scissor-cuts with the curves of the actual spiral imagery in the photo & the shaping of the comb’s teeth adds a bow-like quality and completes the wrap.