Thing-A-Day: Birthday Bot

I know I’ve already made a few of these, but there’s something so irresistibly fun about turning gift wrap into its own little work of art.  I made this Birthday Bot for our friend Paul, who is really into robots.  And no, he’s not five, he’s thirty, but this gift was presented at a party with the theme “It’s Your 5th Birthday!” The party included balloon animals (I made a snail hat! awesome!), dinosaur tattoos, and a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey in which everyone missed the donkey’s butt but managed to collectively and blindly create the longest inappropriate fixture I have ever seen at a children’s party.

To make Birthday Bot I wrapped a huge encyclopedia of beers (Paul is a brewer) in mylar wrapping paper, inside out.  The wrapping has a really pretty print on it (from which I cut B.B.’s eyes), but I thought plain silver would be more appropriate for this project.  The mouth was made from Mrs. Grossman’s stickers I had leftover from my first mandala projects, and his arms are made from cut and folded cardstock.  The antenna thing that is holding the CD envelope is one half of a broken tape dispenser I had sitting on my desk.  The “Robotophant” is a sticker from Neon Monster.  Paul also loves Neon Monster.

As it turns out, what Paul loves more than anything is opening presents, so Birthday Bot didn’t last more than 30 seconds after he got to the party.  Happy 5th birthday!

Thing-A-Day 2: Gift Wrap

I’ve got two good friends with birthdays coming up, and I want to give them each something special.  Unlike my husband, I’m no good at making personalized cards, so I decided to personalize the wrapping instead.  Therefore, today’s instruction is:

Create very personal gift wrap for a loved one using materials you already have lying around the house. If you don’t have a future gift on hand, wrap an empty container you can use later.  Here’s one I made for my friend Christine.  She’s an artist who works a lot with neon colors and giant fields of graphite.  During the day she has an admin job.

Here’s your inspiration:

A round-up of gifts from design*sponge (this shredded pompom was the inspiration for my grass below)

and this round up from Creature Comforts.

And here is your tutorial: How to Create Garden Gift Wrap, like this one I made for my friend Elissa, who has the most wonderful backyard garden ever.

  1. Get a piece of paper that is at least 1.5 times bigger than what you are wrapping.  This will be your sky or your lawn, depending on how you see it.  Fold it in half across the shorter dimension. (I used a piece of 9”x 12” construction paper)
  2. Open the paper back up and place your object inside, sliding it up to the halfway fold (I used a decoy gift for this tutorial so Elissa won’t know what I got her).  Fold the side edges around your gift.
  3. With the edges folded in, place double-stick tape or glue on the bottom half of the paper.
  4. Fold the entire paper in half again to seal it up into a sort of envelope.
  5. Cut three or four strips of a thinner paper like crepe paper or tissue paper that are more than twice the width and height of the exposed portion of your gift.  Layer them on top of one another, about an inch apart.  Fold them in half lengthwise.  (I used the wrinkled green tissue paper that the gift arrived in)
  6. Wrap the entire length around the bottom of the gift and glue or tape the end in place.
  7. Remove this sleeve you just made and cut long snips all the way around it.  Each snip should go about one third of the way down the sleeve.  Snipping really fast will create more haphazard grass-like shapes.  Now snip again, snipping two thirds of the way down.  This will create layers.
  8. Slide your gift back into the sleeve, making sure it is resting inside the folded portion, so it will not fall out through the bottom.  Secure the grass sleeve to the top half of the gift with more tape or glue.  Fluff out the grass with your fingers and add any embellishments you choose.  I used an artificial flower, some rub-on letters and a piece of cotton twine.Enjoy!

Today I am Loving

The blog “Junk Mail Gems.”  Written by a fellow product designer, I found this blog via one of my other favorites, Girl on the Rocks.  Both of these talented ladies are extremely resourceful when it comes to “junk,” recycling everything from post-Halloween jack-o-lanterns to net produce bags, turning them into truly useful items like baked goods and dish scrubbers.  Both women also have a thing for the patterns inside security envelopes, which they’ve turned into gorgeous nameplates, collages, price tags and yes, other envelopes.

With the holidays coming up and the economy slowing down, crafty recycling just makes good financial (And organizational) sense. I’m knitting my double balls of discontinued yarn into little “scarflets” that fasten with (leftover) buttons since they are too short to wrap.  The single balls of yarn are becoming pom-poms and “ribbon,” which will adorn my recycled holiday gift-wrap.  Also, I’m turning my canister of cut up credit cards (yes, I save them, shut up) into a wreath for the Hayes Valley “Circle of Joy” benefit auction.  The leaves are pretty much done, but I still have to add the flowers.

credit card wreath for hayes valley circle of joy benefit auction

Maybe I’m old fashioned, but to me, it really is the thought that counts.  That’s why I like handmade gifts so much.  They’re completely original and really show that you are loved, because they took valuable, valuable time. I probably won’t hold on to that sled-shaped peppermint candle holder from Wal-Mart, but I will treasure those mittens, that cheese board, and those earrings until they disintegrate.