A giftwrapped lesson

Mastering any skill takes practise, practise, practise and learning from the best. All the best athletes, performers and musicians continue to hone their craft throughout their career. Now clearly it is a bit cheeky to place myself in the same comparative sentence as say Usain Bolt or Kevin Spacey or Yo-Yo Ma, but I do know that  they are continuous learners who put the hours in. That’s why they get to the top of their field and stay there.

So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that the world’s leading gift wrapper Jane Means was coming to Australia and that she  was holding a gift wrapping workshop in Melbourne. Well, the answer is very excited. I can gift wrap but I want to make sure I am always getting better and bringing new skills and looks to the table. Learn from the best I say.

I have long been a fan of Jane’s work and admire the fact she created gift wrapping as a career.  Her book Giftwrapped is the best explanation and presentation on gift wrapping I have ever found – and believe me –  I have trawled over every book ever written on the subject because I am a book giver. No scented candles from me. I always give books. I have lost count of the number of copies of Giftwrapped  I have given away as a gift

And so it was that I found myself at The Windsor Workshop on an absolute peach of an April Melbourne morning for a day of wrapping wonderment. My daughter had a student house (complete with carpets that could take a red wine spill) just over the road when she was at university, so I know the area relatively well. But I had no idea that such a lovely space lay behind a fairly unprepossessing exterior on Chapel Street. I also had no idea that Jane would be such a warm and engaging expert. She even treated us to lunch. What a lovely surprise.

The class size meant we all had an opportunity to work closely with Jane. We roamed over wrapping boxes, creating gift bags, tying ribbons, creating embellishments and mastering the challenge of oddly shaped gifts.

Proud gift wrappers. Me at left. Janein fabulous pink in the centre. http://janemeansblog.com/
Proud gift wrappers. Me at left. Jane in fabulous pink in the centre. Photo from http://janemeansblog.com/

For me, there was reinforcement of things I knew, a different perspective, and of course many new ideas and touches. What did I take away?

Well lots of things but here’s a few in no particular order……

  • Just like the great chefs…work clean. I get a bit focused when I am gift wrapping and sometimes do not clean up as I go as thoroughly as I should as I go. As Jane said, when you are wrapping for Dior, there is no place for even the tiniest piece of mess. Not even a speck nor a speck.
  • Florist wire is you friend and it comes in different gauges. The bigger the number, the thinner the wire. I am loving the 32. And florists’ wire is fabulous for making pinwheels, rosettes and fans and embellishments and cheekily sneekily tying things on so they don’t show. And green floral tape – I didn’t know I needed it in my life.
  • Need more buttons. Unleash the inner haberdasher.
  • I thought I was okay at matching ribbons to paper but I always marvelled at how Jane’s matches were always just that more marvellous. Okay, she’s a ribbon designer so you’d expect a bit of panache but her advice was wise….Look for the brightest colour in the paper and match the ribbon to that.
  • I tend to be a bit of a ribbon person, and I need to stretch myself to a wider range of embellishments, many of which I can make myself but did not because I thought it would take too long. The rose made of wired ribbon – genius and relatively simple when you know how. And a flower made of ric rac addresses two major issues – how to make a rose from ric rac and how to use all the fabulous coloured ric rac I have acquired without ever really finding a higher purpose for it (cos you sure as eggs can’t tie it in a bow with any success).
  • Bunches of everlasting Frosted berries…mmmmm… . a lovely touch that can spans seasons and looks. Christmasssy when you need it to be . Not Christmassy when you don’t.
  • Embrace tissue paper. I have come a long way with tissue paper lately. I was a tissue paper skeptic. But seeing the way Jane works with it, I must admit the error of my judging ways.  I am building up my tissue stockpile in case there is a world tissue shortage because I now use it for wrapping bottles, lining boxes and making beautiful flower and pom pom toppers. Could not get enough of Jane’s tissue paper with a Liberty of London pattern. Yum.

Finally – and I knew this – but it was a kind and timely reinforcement – you will not wrap every gift perfectly every time even if you are an expert. Jane freely admits she doesn’t get everything right every time (though her mistakes are better than most people’s best effort). Keep practising and keep creating . The effort you put into gift wrapping will always make the recipient of the gift feel special.

Photos from http://janemeansblog.com/





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