Tenugui gift wrapping

This past weekend Heath Ceramics in San Francisco had a lovely exhibit; Akio Nukaga and friends which included several events. One of the friends events I saw on the calendar was a Japanese gift wrapping demo. So you know I had to be there!

As part of the festivities the Japanese textile company Kamawanu brought their beautiful Tenugui cloths. What is Tenugui? As it says on their promotional materials:

"Tenugui, a piece of dyed cotton cloth, has always been an essential tool for the Japanese. Not only was it used as a wiping tool such as a towel or handkerchief, it was also used as a bandage and a headwear in the old days. On the other hand, since it was possible to dye various graphic designs on the Tenugui, it also came to be used in the place of a greeting card or a business card."

Gift wrapping is a newer use that Kamawanu is promoting for the Tenugui. You may have seen Japanese gift wrapping with cloth before. The other variety is Furoshiki which uses a square cloth for gift wrapping but it is an entirely different tradition. Wrapping with Tenugui employs similar concepts but is different because the cloth is a long rectangular shape.

Megumi Inouye was the demonstrator and came up with many ways to show us how to wrap with the Tenegui. I'll admit with all my wrapping love I have been a little hesitant to dive into wrapping with cloth. Megumi made it look approachable. Watching her manipulate the cloth you can easily see the benefits of wrapping with Tenegui.

With just a few concepts in mind you can wrap many things.

— Laying your object at an angle to the cloth allows you to cover your object completely. 
— Alternatively if you have a larger object don't stress about covering it completely. Partially wrapping it with the cloth will still make it special.
— Round objects can be rolled at an angle in the cloth.
— And while you're at it use that same idea with boxes. Throw out the western idea of positioning objects at 90 degree angles.
— Twist the cloth to wrap around a wine bottle neck. Or twist the cloth to hold an object inside.
— Knot the cloth. Optionally tuck the exposed ends of your cloth into the knot for a different look.
— Work with the shape of your object not against it. 
— It's ok to get an assist from a simple modern tool like the rubber band! But for this lets definitely say no to tape.

An example of not needing to hide the wrapped object. The ends of the knot are tucked inside the knot to create the clean look.

An example of not needing to hide the wrapped object. The ends of the knot are tucked inside the knot to create the clean look.

Examples of twisting. There are 3 apples wrapped in the left with a twist between each one. Reminds me of how a balloon animal is created.

Examples of twisting. There are 3 apples wrapped in the left with a twist between each one. Reminds me of how a balloon animal is created.

Magumi took inspiration from the shape of the candle holder by tucking the fabric into it's cavity and creating a flower with the ends. This is a great example of letting the object dictate how the fabric forms around it. Maybe this will work for wrapping a small cup too!

Magumi took inspiration from the shape of the candle holder by tucking the fabric into it's cavity and creating a flower with the ends. This is a great example of letting the object dictate how the fabric forms around it. Maybe this will work for wrapping a small cup too!

The wrapping on the far right uses a rubber band as an aid. Instead of twisting the excess fabric a rubber band is secured around it and the fabric is tucked under.

The wrapping on the far right uses a rubber band as an aid. Instead of twisting the excess fabric a rubber band is secured around it and the fabric is tucked under.

The top view of the rubber band aided wrap.

The top view of the rubber band aided wrap.

Megumi and I actually have an interesting connection even though we've just met. In different years we've both participated in the Scotch most gifted wrapper contest. Megumi was runner up the year she participated. So this was a treat to connect with her and chat about wrap.

One of the important things she emphasized is that the Tenegui can elevate simple items for gift giving. This technique doesn't need to be reserved for wrapping only precious ceramics. That's one of the principals I think is so important about gift wrapping whichever kind you do. The act of taking the time to wrap something imposes a significant to the act of gifting however big or small either physically or monetarily the item is.

Impromptu wrapping using twisting and knotting. This might be sturdy enough to carry a smaller object. Perhaps a special way to present a garden clipping.

Impromptu wrapping using twisting and knotting. This might be sturdy enough to carry a smaller object. Perhaps a special way to present a garden clipping.

During Q&A someone asked how Magumi would wrap a plant. She took the challenge and quickly came up with the above idea. I think for a moment she felt like she was back in the wrapping contest.

The twisting method would be a perfect way to wrap eggs. And how perfect to wrap them in this egg patterned Tenegui. If I had chickens I would definitely be using Tenegui to deliver the eggs as gifts to friends.

The twisting method would be a perfect way to wrap eggs. And how perfect to wrap them in this egg patterned Tenegui. If I had chickens I would definitely be using Tenegui to deliver the eggs as gifts to friends.

Some other facts about Tenegui.

Tenegui comes in many patterns which are often chosen by the gift giver to fit the interests of the receiver. The patterns are made by creating paper templates that the dye is pushed through. The Tenegui cloth is cut from a continuous roll so each individual cloth has two cut edges and two salvage edges. (I'm not sure if there is a different terminology for salvage when it comes to this particular cloth). To dye the cloth it is starched. Brand new Tenegui cloths have a crisp feel to them. As they're used and washed they become soft.

You can read about the history of Tenegui on Kamawanu's website. 

I know that there isn't a full demo here but I encourage you to get any bit of fabric that is not very thick and just play around with melding it to the form of objects. The wonderful thing about fabric is you can re-wrap as many times as needed without damaging your material. That's much harder to do with crisp paper. Megumi has a couple Furoshiki classes up on Creativebug that could give you a start.

If you're in San Francisco head over to the Heath Ceramics tile factory to snap up some of the remaining Tenegui still in the store. I'm not sure if it will be a regular item that they'll retail but I hope so.

If you have any additional info to share about wrapping with Tenegui or cloth please share in the comments!

In case it's not obvious all wrappings are done by Megumi Inouye.

DIY decorative masking tape

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Last week I shared an alternative for using plain clear tape when wrapping gifts. This week I've got another one. By now most avid crafters have discovered washi tape. So what's the next logical step for a washi tape addict? Making your own of course! This is were Zentangle or doodling skills come in handy. To be clear this is not making the tape from scratch but it is a way to add some personalization to your gift giving.

An alternative to drawing on masking tape is to use giant stickers. You could even use something as simple as an Avery label.

An alternative to drawing on masking tape is to use giant stickers. You could even use something as simple as an Avery label.

For this project I actually started with Scotch colored masking tape. It's a bid wider than most washi tape available and has a nice texture to it. (I prefer it to the actual washi tape Scotch has on the market which has slick finish). 

Project tips:

— Use a permanent water proof marker. (I used a micron).
— Lay a length of tape on a peel-off surface. Wax paper works well. (I used foil parchment).
— Let your ink dry for a few minutes before touching it just to be on the safe side.
— Caution; if the sticky side of the tape gets in contact with the drawing side it will lift off the ink.

Happy wrapping!

Gift wrapping with image transfers

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Have you ever heard of an image transfer? I had almost forgotten what they were until I recently got this book, Playing with Image Transfers, by Courtney Cerruti. I remember making one as part of a letterforms project in college. Google was barely a thing so I went off the verbal instructions from an art grad. Boy do I wish I had this book then. I remember having fun with my project but this book would have alleviated a lot of frustration.

Yeah, so what's an image transfer? There are many techniques but the basics are using an intermediary to transfer an image from paper (generally a magazine or photo copy) to your surface. In the case of the packages below I used the packing tape method. The packing tape is the medium that lifts the image allowing you to transfer to other surfaces.

Courtney covers many transfer methods in her book. I've had a chance to try most of them and will experiment more in the future. The one I was most immediately drawn to play with was the packing tape method because I could see its uses as an alternative to tape when wrapping gifts. Well, not exactly a tape alternative. After all it is still tape. But it's a way to add another layer of texture to the wraps.

Basics of the packing tape method

— Cut a piece of packing tape (thicker is better) and adhere to a magazine image.
— Cut loosely around the tape.
— Pop the tape into a warm bucket of water.
— After a few minutes dip your hands in the water and rub the paper off the back of the tape.
— Whala! You have just transfered an image to a piece of tape. Now stick it wherever you want.

Courtney has many more tips and project ideas for this method in her book.

Wrapping with image transfers can allow for some extra personalization with gift giving. The gift above was for a doctor friend so I incorporated some medical type imagery along with one of her favorite colors purple.

Wrapping with image transfers can allow for some extra personalization with gift giving. The gift above was for a doctor friend so I incorporated some medical type imagery along with one of her favorite colors purple.

These transfer journal pages show a couple other techniques. In the mix along with the packing tape method are some solvent transfers, some zentangle drawing (of course), and washi tape.

These transfer journal pages show a couple other techniques. In the mix along with the packing tape method are some solvent transfers, some zentangle drawing (of course), and washi tape.

Besides the Playing with Image Transfers book as a resource I've had the opportunity to take an in person class from Courtney. She's a great teacher full of tips and ideas.

If you live in the Bay Area you can take her upcoming class at Kala Art Institute and she often teaches at San Francisco Center for the Book. Alternatively she also has an online class available at Creative Bug!

 

Crafty book recommendation: Just Us Girls

This months book recommendation is a crafting book for moms and daughters. Just Us Girls: 48 Creative Art and Craft Projects for Mothers and Daughters to Do Together, By Cindy Ann Ganadan. Flipping through this book brings me back to my childhood and all the fun projects my mom would come up with. We always had a project going. Sometimes it was making contraptions for blowing giant bubbles or you could find us blending up newspaper and fabric bits to make our own paper.

Cindy's book unfolds a magical world I think many little girls would love to craft in. The projects in the book have a focus on using found or recycled materials. To connect even more with the outdoors the projects have been organized into the four seasons.

Growing up I also spent a lot of time foraging in our yard for things to add to craft projects just like this book demonstrates. I have a funny memory of a childhood friend and I spending the afternoon in her family's walnut orchard making mud pies and picking rose petals to make our own rose water. We really didn't know what we were doing so I think our sweet smelling perfume turned into a moldy science experiment not long after. Thankfully, Cindy has instructions for making rose water, the right way, in this book.

One of the projects in the book is to recycle a spool of thread for creating a scrolled gift tag. I made my own version as tag and topper for the above birthday gift.

My medallion with a little Zentangle embellishment.

My medallion with a little Zentangle embellishment.

I had the opportunity to make the medallion project at a book event a couple months ago. To aid with the crafting fun there are templates and tear outs of some of Cindy's whimsical illustrations in the back of the book including many options for badge faces.

Cindy Ann Ganadan and samples of her medallions.

Cindy Ann Ganadan and samples of her medallions.

If you live in the Bay Area you're in luck. Cindy and her daughter will be at The Makers Faire this weekend May 17th and 18th with books and the fun medallion craft project. Alternatively pick up her book online.

Do you have any crafty childhood memories?