Monday, November 11, 2013

Art meets Craft or How to Improve a Cheap Gift

Art school daughter had an assignment to redesign existing packaging. She found a gift pack of rubs for $5.


She designed a new logo and concept for the package. Each bottle was like a bullet of flavor to her. (That there is marketing talk.)

She found a handy woodworker who built her a simple box out of scrap wood (for free). She printed her new logo onto an iron–on T–shirt transfer sheet and ironed it on to the box so it would look old and gnarly.


When you slide back the cardboard matchbook cover (made with shirt gift boxes), you find a five shot cartridge (3D printed) of BBQ rubs nestled in a bed of straw (thinly shredded manila paper).


You can see the simple construction of the wooden box and the matchbox slide cover.


The BBQ rub holder looks like a five–shot barrel. She 3D printed each piece, but I thought toilet paper rolls might stand in too. Craft paint and Rub ’N Buff provide the metallic shine.


Since each bottle was unlabeled, she used glass etching cream and vinyl letters to identify each spice. She had to guess at ingredients, so we expect she mislabeled at least two of the bottles. The girl does not cook.


Especially when gift–giving, it’s important to list the ingredients. She just copied the back of the original box, arted it up, and ironed it on to the wooden box.


The result is a high–end box of BBQ rubs made special with a stash of mom’s craft supplies. Her cost to redo the packaging was essentially zero.

Another art student friend repackaged granola in a repurposed glass jar with a beautiful graphic label. She covered the lid with fabric and wrapped it in raffia. You can find beautiful labels from sources such as The Graphics Fairy, Vintage Printable, and Digital Two for Tuesday. Or design your own label using clip art and a graphics program.

Last year, I designed a vanity label for grocery store BBQ rubs using my dog Bob. You don’t have to be an art student to get good results.


Apparently we like our BBQ here in Texas! It makes a great gift, too.

Can you think of other items that could do with a packaging makeover for the gift–giving season? Share in the comments and let’s get to making art and presents.



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Crafting for the Holidays or “You made that, didn’t you?”

I have a deep, dark secret. I used to make gifts and put fake craft show price tags on them for certain family members. Those gifts ALWAYS were appreciated more than when I owned up to my craftiness. There’s nothing worse than being asked, “You made that, didn’t you?”

As a crafter, I love to make stuff for other people. I’ve learned, however, that not everyone appreciates handmade. You are picturing your anti–handmade friends and family now, aren’t you.

These lovely friends and family look at handmade items as cheap or disappointing. Usually these folks are not crafters and have no concept of the time required to create. They don’t understand the time you’ve devoted to them. And to add insult to injury, they love to go to craft shows and plonk down money for someone else’s handmade to give to you. Hurt feelings all around. Have you been there?

The truth is, handmade just doesn’t fit everyone.

I’m not bitter, really. I’ve just learned who I can give handmade gifts to and who I shouldn’t. I concentrate my crafty energy on those folks. I’ll happily shop for the other camp.

So who are the people who appreciate handmade gifts?

1. Parents/Grandparents.

Remember that misshapen lumpy pinch pot you made in second grade and gave to your mom? I still have the one my daughter made. My son’s oddly painted ceramic heart is hanging on my kitchen wall. Even if you’re 40, your parents like to get things you’ve made them.

2. Crafty Friends.

Crafty friends KNOW what crafting is. They’ll admire your skill. They’ll know and appreciate the time and materials you put into gifts for them. If you don’t make something for them, give them crafting supplies.

3. Your Kids.

The older they are, the smaller the project you should make. You can’t surpass the Wow! factor of the latest gadget with a handknit. They won’t appreciate the handknit until you’re gone.

4. Babies/Toddlers

Tiny kids don’t covet gadgets yet. Take advantage of this age. They’ll be wanting an Ipod soon enough.


I’m putting together a list of ideas for crafty gift giving that just might convert non–crafters into enthusiastic handmade converts. If you have any ideas for popular handmade gifts, please leave them in the comments. Or, if you have any horror stories of handmade gift giving gone wrong, please share them in the comments too. We all have jerks stories.