When I needed to develop a jewelry gift box for some of the small items I make, I realized I’d need to give it some thought. Packaging can be what sets your craft product apart. Especially in the competitive world of Etsy where photos must sell and hopefully attract an editor’s eye. A product just isn’t finished without being wrapped in a professional presentation.
But packaging generally annoys me. I think the terms “disposable” and “throw away” should be eliminated from our language and lifestyles. So the idea of purchasing and printing professional packaging felt like perpetuating a practical evil. ;-) Looking at the market, there are some nice things available – but anything special is also expensive. And even if I were to purchase recycled boxes and cardstocks, customized with green inks, etc., wouldn’t I just be putting out another disposable item?
So I had the idea of creating “Packaging Worth Preserving” and to give my customers a jewelry gift box they might treasure instead of toss. It had to have charm and be something special, but also be practical and sturdy for shipping. My second mission was to make these from recycled materials.
And there, in my recycling bin, were boxes and a mound of paper circulars that arrive each week, unrequested and unrelenting, and I thought….humm…..a ready supply of free material - I wonder if I could create Packaging Worth Preserving out of this?
Then I thought of pirate chests and ancient dowry boxes and of trying to evoke that sense of preciousness in a paper box. Online I found a chest-like shape with some clever cut-on feet and I played with that for a while, altering the top. I took an obsessive detour and made this tiny paper chest, lined with padded velvet. It has hand-made hinges and a magnet ‘lock’ that snaps closed. It is completely impractical to the gift box purpose, but I had fun making it and it makes me laugh.
Geometry. And the stern Ms. Mathers who would have been pretty if she hadn’t been so tight around the mouth. I hated that I had her, 2 years in a row, for both Geometry and Algebra. One day, a fellow student posed to her what I considered a perfectly good math question - how much alcohol to buy for an upcoming party? Ms. Mathers curtly responded, “I don’t drink”. I decided then and there that she was a bad teacher to have missed an opportunity to educate due to her personal judgment and under-age drinking. I stopped listening and learned nothing from her, having also wrongly deduced that, as an artist, I would not be needing math in my life time.
Well, I missed the math lesson, but am reminded of the one on judgments each time I have to muddle around, muttering “I know there is a formula for this” and cursing myself for the millionth time for not paying attention to Ms. Mathers. I finally figured out how to make a hexagonal box and drafted the design. My prototype cut and assembled relatively quickly and I felt pleased with the results. The shape has charm, is quite strong for shipping, and it tessellates with other boxes so I can pack several into one padded envelope. I like it because it looks like a nut, and is not too feminine. Now I needed the box material. The cardboard in my recycle bin was either too thick or the wrong size, so I decided to try to make a cardstock from laminated junk mail and use this to create my hex gift boxes.I hope people will like and keep these one-of-a-kind gift boxes, and I feel good about recycling the paper. Perhaps a way around the glue issue would be to grind the junk mail into paper pulp and make cardstock from that….I’d need to add some dryer lint for strength, and then decorate or dye some way because the pulp would be grayish..…well that’s an experiment for another day.