Saturday, December 17, 2011


I've discovered that whenever Pat opens one of these gifts too quickly, she really has to work at it the following year.

Once again, the present itself was overshadowed by its container. Kokopelli is a humpbacked flute player whose Indian heritage goes back at least to 200 A.D. Kokopelli, according to legend, could be a nuisance to some or bring good luck and health to others. I decided to make him a nuisance.

Searching for something more fragile than wood, I came across a carton of plaster of paris. This turned out to be much better than I could have imagined.  These were the days when I didn't bother making a prototype first. Mixing what I guessed would be the right amount of water for the powder, I poured the mixture back into its milk carton container. Kokopelli had to get inside somehow and not be ruined in the process. I found a plastic box with a lid, inserted Kokopelli, filled the rest of the box with rice and sealed on the lid so it was waterproof.

Then I waited for the plaster to dry. The thought was to carve something in the plaster on all sides except one (the bottom). After a few hours I peeled back the milk carton. The plaster was maleable. It stayed this way for hours, giving me time to mold and carve. It was the most fun I've had making a gift wrap. I came back several times to edit, erase and refine the surface. In the medium was the message:
  • top -- a figurative rose, recalling the box from the previous year
  • side 1 -- A Christmas tree forest and mountains in the background, recalling our years in Washington State
  • side 2 -- A little Dido gargoygle perched at the top, a frog cutout, both recalling gifts in the series
  • side 3 -- A waterfall you might see in Yosemite near our home in California
  • side 4 -- a simple swirl or squiggle, our favorite "personality" shape
  • all over--white, like the block of ice two years prior
Pat figured out pretty quickly that if she wasn't going to ruin this package, the only way in was the bottom. Chiseling away the plaster, she eventually ran into the plastic, now firmly embedded in the sculpture. Sharper tools ensued, finally shattering the plastic and spilling the rice. Kokopelli was finally freed after about 45 minutes.

The trinket gift remains on display with its container to this day.