"100% Trash, So You Know It's Good!"

comments (12) January 5th, 2009     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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Garbage is good. Much of what I find in my wastepaper basket is there not because it is useless but rather because I havent yet thought of a use for it. This week I try to remedy that situation.
This beautiful book was my favorite gift of the season: The wrapping paper around it was my second favorite.
In a nod to lusty consumerism, I added a faux product name to my project. Has it always been so easy to go from garbage to gift just by adding a label?
Garbage is good. Much of what I find in my wastepaper basket is there not because it is useless but rather because I havent yet thought of a use for it. This week I try to remedy that situation.

Garbage is good. Much of what I find in my wastepaper basket is there not because it is useless but rather because I haven't yet thought of a use for it. This week I try to remedy that situation.

Photo: Jeff Rudell
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When you love paper as much as I do, every holiday gift comes wrapped in a treasure all its own: I have the pleasure of the gift itself and the added joy of adding a wonderful piece of paper to my already bulging archive of fun, festive, unusual, and beautiful papers. I credit my grandmother with instilling in me this interest in rescuing and reusing wrapping paper. When she taught it to me, it was generally looked upon as being "frugal"; now it is commonly referred to as being "green." Whatever you prefer to call it, come January I am usually still writing and sending out thank-you notes to friends and family in appreciation of their holiday generosity.

As has already been established here, I have been known to be somewhat elaborate in my thank-yous. (In my defense, I feel compelled to show appreciation in proportion to the kindness that's been shown to me. Can I help it if my friends happen to be extraordinary people? I think not.)

This year was no exception, and one gift in particular caught me off guard both because it was unexpected (coming, as it did, from two very new friends) and so perfectly suited to my interests (the marvelous pop-up book ABC3D by Marion Bataille). To thank my friends for their thoughtfulness, I wanted to make them something suitably "holiday" related but also suitably ephemeral. When it comes to thank-yous, I have found that the best ones are those that last awhile but eventually fade away: for some reason, once a note is gone, the memory of it grows stronger.

So, this year, I looked at all the gifts I had with a fresh eye, seeing not only the presents themselves but also the sentiments they conveyed and the care and beauty with which they were packaged. Isn't a large part of what makes a gift a gift the pleasure of its surprise? And isn't that what wrapping paper does? Isn't that the work, the very essence of wrapping paper, to create surprise? If that was true, why relegate wrapping paper to merely hiding the surprise when I could transform it into the surprise itself.

The pieces I ended up making were loose and imperfect with plenty of fuzzy edges and flawed finishes, but they all had that wonderful element of surprise about them. As an added benefit, I rescued a small mountain of paper that would otherwise have been destined for a landfill. The resulting paper ornaments may eventually find their way to a trash barrel somewhere down the road, but for the time being they have been busily employed as frothy bagatelles signifying the unbridled pleasure of friendship.

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Comments (12)

BoDyanDSouL writes: This is so beautiful!!!!!
I also recycle almost all the cards, paper and ribbons. The wrapping paper, usually I smooth it with the hot ironing,also re-use the ribbons, curl it up with a butter knife or scissors and they are good as new and re-line the inside of the cards with two pieces of printing paper and then cut new edges on the Paper Trimmer.
Posted: 4:16 am on January 26th
lovequilter writes: I also am a lover of reuse, recycle and rediscover. I save all my used wrapping paper (even the torn stuff). Then I put it through my paper shredder and instantly I have brightly colored filler for all my baskets and fragile gifts. It really is a shame to put it into the landfill.
Posted: 10:58 am on January 12th
Jeff_Rudell writes: Dear pamphyila: My grandmother taught me to iron ribbons by carefully sliding them over a warm lightbulb. It seems our grandmothers were "green" long before it was fashionable. Thank you for your comments.
Posted: 9:47 pm on January 11th
pamphyila writes: How did you SEND this? Seriously - your lucky friends.
My Swedish grandmother and great aunt taught me about recycling gift wrap - Ribbons can be ironed on a LOW setting, you know. I keep scraps throughout the year for last minute gifts....But you know you have a rep for being green when your bows are immediately RETURNED to you!
Posted: 5:19 pm on January 11th
prpldy writes: What a great idea, and I love your faux product tag! Thanks for the inspiration to be even more green.
Posted: 3:01 pm on January 10th
sigridsoto writes: Keep creating we need more trash diggers I say that i a kind way i am a trash digger to and proud of it I love you for what you do for universe
Posted: 5:23 am on January 7th
2manyideas writes: Oh, instead of ringlets to elevate the center freeform design, using the quilling technique and making a roll out of the matching wrapping paper would look good also. This way you can cut the strips of paper the width you want the height to be and the showing edges will be colorful as well when viewed from the side. ;-)
Posted: 6:42 pm on January 6th
2manyideas writes: Jeff: Saw you in Elle Decor with the lovely floral paper sculpture you did (I kept saying "why am I not in a magazine?!"). Looked you up on Google and found you here! Awesome! I'm going to take your wreath idea and run with it as an ornament, and I'm going to also use your recycled idea but expand on it using Christmas cards I've saved from previous years! I found a cool ornament idea that is origami in nature and 3D and I'm going to spin it in the center out of a mix of leftover silver glitter wrapping paper and cards! I'll post a photo when I get these done. Thanks for being here. If I get stuck on ideas I'll be sure to ask you for input.
Posted: 6:36 pm on January 6th
longgoneandforgotten writes: This is very nice! I wonder what you could make out of recycled old "Stairway to Heaven" prom decorations, if you start at 3:00am when you need to get your Algebra II homework done?
Posted: 5:27 pm on January 6th
AWilcox writes: Sir Jeffery,

What an amazing idea you have created. When I grew up I was encouraged by my siblings to rip open my presents like a madman, however my Mom gently and carefully opened her gifts with intense care. She never wanted to tear the paper and would fold it and save it. I don't know if she ever re-use it, but perhaps she too had a love of paper. That I am a aware of she never created anything such as exquisite as you have, I mean not in terms of re-using gift wrapping paper, she is a great cook and a great Mom.

I am sure your friends are tickled pink OR GREEN to received such an amazing thank you card (ornament). Another great creations by Sir Jeffery! Kudos to you.
Posted: 8:32 am on January 6th
mizzkitti writes: lovely!! you may also appreciate this Japanese book about shoes made from paper - http://8tokyo.com/2008/01/08/shoe-made-of-wrapping-paper/
Posted: 7:57 pm on January 5th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: W.O.W.

I love this idea, and - as usual - your execution is magnificent. (where are these "imperfections" and "flaws" of which you speak? ;) And I love that "craft" is the new "green." Well said!
Posted: 5:24 pm on January 5th
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