WOVEN, A Packaging Story

Do you know that prickly feeling you get when you realize you've just discovered the perfect gift for someone? If I were making a list, that jolt of imagination would be in the list of my top five favorite human feelings of all time, and right up there with the gift is the packaging, its my favorite part. Packaging, by my own made up definition, is the delivered experience of meeting an object.

As a child I was captivated by the post office. Of all my favorite collections, and believe me, I had a collection for everything, my stamp book was one of my favorites. Even now I save curious little scraps of paper as mementos and inspiration for new projects.

The experience of sending and receiving something is unmatched: the love you extend while preparing it, the anticipation of giving, and the sweet payoff of the receiver’s reaction. WOVEN was a project that became most important to me once I understood how important it was to others, so when the demand called for a print sale, I wanted to make sure each purchaser's delivered experience was unforgettable.

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As with any new project, I took to Pinterest: filtering through my Design board (for inspiration, shapes and colors and asking myself, how I can make unboxing a WOVEN print, memorable? I spent a couple weeks nailing down my ideas and then the moment I walked into If It's Paper I threw all those ideas out the window. Right by the door hung these gorgeous 20-inch sheets of handmade papers from Peru with metallic inks dripped into the mixture. The white sheets reminded me of planetary rings, the black sheets looked like slurred star systems. I snatched them all.

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Those papers set off the trend of making sure the packaging matched the aesthetic of the photos: deep blacks with islands of intense color while also complementing the metallic in the paper with the use of gold lame cord, copper tape and brass waxes for sealing.

WOVEN has formed my identity as an artist in a lot of ways, and since there was no intent when I took them, I've been grateful to the viewers for sharing their experiences with the portraits with me.

It wasn’t until the sale that I needed to name them: Nambi is the first woman of love and sexuality; Mawu is known as the creator goddess, one who has given birth to all life on earth. Gleti is a moon goddess ruler of stars. Her face is dark because she is said to have been eclipsed by her husband who is a moon. Oya is the Orishia goddess of the wind, fire and the thunderbolt. Aja is the Yorobian forest goddess. And Eshu is the god of travelers along life's roads and also, a trickster. I chose African gods and goddesses to stay close to myself.

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At the end of 2016 I knew I was going to do a print sale in 2017. So I made sure I timed the release until after I could pick Magnolia Stellata flowers--the very ones used in the photos. I dried, pressed then stored them for nearly a year because I knew I wanted to incorporate one into each order. The flowers were a way to add something live--an element I usually bring to all of my work, and textural. Wax sealing was a call back to the way precious items used to be sealed. The Magnolia flower etched into the wax.

Being southern is so central to my identity and the intentions of my work. I wanted to maintain the magnolia theme by incorporating bleached leaf skeletons from the Southern Magnolia into the packaging and found the beautiful Magnolia wax seal that I'd been scouring the web for.

I love packaging so much because tactility is so intimate and also so rare these days. But you know what never fades? The magic of surprises and the feeling of getting good, experiential mail. As these prints float all over the country I give you all my spirit.  (Read all the way to the end for a list of materials used in this packaging order).

Photo Boxes | Wildcat Wholesale
2-Ply Metallic Lame Cord | Hobby Lobby
Onyx Metallic Envelope | If It's Paper
Handmade Metallic Peruvian Paper | If It's Paper
Foil-stamped Business Cards + WOVEN Notecards | Moo
Magnolia Wax Seal Set | Silk & Willow
Additional Wax Candles | Old Salem Gift Store
Foam Mat Boards | Mat Board Center
Copper Washi Tape | Decora
Bleached Magnolia Skeleton | SalishSeaCabin
Dried Magnolia Blooms | Handpicked