Ugly Parcels – a Messy Tuesdays special

For today’s (late) Messy Tuesdays post I wish to dwell momentarily on the mess associated with my packaging skills, or – put more bluntly – my inclination towards making parcels which have been strengthened with sellotape and gaffer tape to the point that they have become unsightly.

Ugly Parcels, if you will.

Let us dwell on this deeply furrowed brown wrapping paper crease, in the acreage of which small colonies of packaging-dwellers might happily establish themselves.

And let us reflect for a second on the mesh of interwoven tapes of different strengths and densities which have been used here to make sure that the poor ebay buyer for whom this packet is destined will not be able to access the contents without at least a free half an hour and a very fine pair of steel scissors.

Please note that the lack of consideration I give to the aesthetics of my ugly parcels must not be confused with a lack of care about the recipient or the contents. Rather, my approach to wrapping up parcels is driven by a deep suspicion that some terrible calamity will befall the items in transit. I feel responsible to ensure to the best of my abilities that – should any disaster strike – my parcel should be excellently prepared to cope. This sense of responsibility provokes me to enwrap, encircle, tape up, enmesh, reinforce and doublewrap things so that they are able to face most eventualities and – to more critical eyes – somewhat over-engineered.*

However it is not for the Messy Tuesdays posts to criticise the shortcomings of one’s domestic creativity; in Messy Tuesdays we instead revel in the richness of our practices and materials; in the joys of life as it is.

I am not my bonny, neatly beribboned parcel.

I am an admirer of the exuberance of a good old Ugly Parcel. I like to see traces of the wrapper’s impatience and energy in the wrinkles of the sellotape, and to happily observe the earnest, well-intentioned desire to protect the contents which inhabits an excess of paper or a non-judicious placement of gaffer tape. I like the weighty heft of a parcel which has employed newspaper and brown paper in its construction. And I approve of the the unashamed temerity of a resolutely utilitarian packaging aesthetic in a world full of surface desires and useless prettiness.

Since my gifts and parcels must always be lumpen, porridgy efforts wound in duct tape, I have decided to embrace my inner ugly-parcel-maker. She is a fine creature; a restless wrapper with a lack of patience and a lengthy to-do list which will not allow her to indulge in the vanities of Perfect Sellotape Placement. To her credit, no parcels I have ever sent have fallen apart in transit, and my Ugly Parcels are cheap and environmentally friendly to produce, since they invariably entail the re-use of old jiffy bags and sometimes the re-use of old installation materials.**

This post is dedicated to all the Ugly Parcels and their noble makers!

*That said, I would like very much to invent a concrete-enrobing device with which to thoroughly ensure the preservation of anything I might send by Royal Mail. The parcel weight costs could pose a problem, but then they would probably not be a great deal more than our monthly sellotape bill.
**I am still using brown paper left over from The Sonic Tuck Shop installation in Reading last year to wrap parcels!

7 Responses to Ugly Parcels – a Messy Tuesdays special

  1. Mark says:

    How an artist can be content with these packages is beyond me! Seeing your “work” – I don’t think I would have winced more if I was watching Ricky Gervais try to make light of the Fukushima problems in Japan.

    Is this a secret cry for help? I would be very happy to wrap things on your behalf 🙂

    …and being an enterprising sort – I am hereby launching my new business Packaway to help the poor people you send stuff too: Packaway offers premium rate telephone support to victims of PRSD, post-receipt stress disorder.

  2. Jo Spittler says:

    Hm, not quite sure about this one… Apart from being grateful for receiving a parcel, such a parcel, um, presumably I would detect a thought in the back of my mind saying something along the lines of “buggar, need to get some scissors for this one”…

    I like it!!

  3. stav says:

    When I have to give feedback to an ebay seller for an item I purchased the first thing I comment on was the sturdiness of the packaging. I appreciate when a complete stranger has wrapped something carefully -note I don’t say prettily- for it to be snug, protected and safe. It shows that the seller loves the object and respects the buyer’s money.

    I have received scratched broken items (a cake stand for example)with the broken bits being inside the packaging, meaning that the disaster occured *after* the item was wrapped. I will never buy from them again. If I wanted to own a broken cake stand I would go through my neighbours bins and surely I ‘d find one.

    On another level, eventhough I am sure that knitting yarn is hardly considered a breakable/fragile/scratchable item, I am equally sure that if you’re ordering knitting yarn, it is very likely that you’d be a knitter/craftster therefore finding a pair of scissors in close proximity to your person wouldn’t be a problem.

    To conclude, I completely agree with the over-protection of things-to-be-mailed. It shows that you’re a good person who loves yarn. (Both of which happen to be true.)

  4. Julia says:

    Oh, my. This made me laugh. As the maker and recipient of Ugly Parcels, I shall never look at them in quite the same way again. Thank you.

  5. Kate says:

    Hurrah for th’ugly parcels!

  6. colleen says:

    Messy Tuesday. Make-you-laugh-Thursday. And gold stars for the recycling and robustness of your parcels.

  7. Alison says:

    I too am a sender of messy parcels. At least now I know that I am part of a vibrant community, thank you. I just wish I had taken a photo of the gift wrapping job done by my 10 year old son on a birthday gift last week. Oh it was *not* a thing of beauty, but it was a thing all done by him, and a very very messy parcel it was.

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