So – as you know I love to wrap gifts – even if they aren’t gifts I am giving myself. In the past few years I was fortunate to have had an inept gift wrapping friend for whom I could wrap and wrap and create. That wasn’t the case this year so I was a bit bummed. I had a great concept for gift wrapping this year and was kind of looking forward to realizing them but my friend wasn’t, and no one else asked so I was kind of left without. I had a gift that I had bought for said friend however so I thought well, let me just expend my giftwrapping energy there. I had a ton of old memory chips lying around from previous computers and discards and such so I thought how can I use this and how does this tie into the gift I bought?
Now, I for one, expend a lot of effort on the few gifts I give. I don’t care about cost – it can be a little or a lot or total DYI – that isn’t the point. The point is to try to give a gift that says something to the recipient – that says something about how the giver feels and is something that reflects the relationship, the desires and wishes of the receiver and also the care and thoughts of the giver. I think gift giving is really an art – from the selection of the gift and the presentation –the whole thing means something and the components are part of the whole – I don’t discount the wrapping or the presentation or the box or the packaging or whatever – it is all part of the care and expresses how one feels about the receiver. Anyway. That becomes really relevant later – but for now – I had this friend. At one point early on in our relationship he had shared with me a graphic novel that he said would give me insight into who he was and why he was. It was a wonderful and award winning book and did indeed give insight into the character and foundation of my friend. Lo these many years later as I thought about an appropriate gift for this friend I thought about this initial introduction and thought “how can I memorialize that sharing, that memory” hence the kernel of the idea. The author of that original graphic novel was on a booktour for his newest release and I managed to find a signing event about three or so hours away. Off I went to try to get a copy of the first book signed by him to my friend. I took time off work went off to the book signing only to discover they didn’t have any of the original books I actually wanted in stock. I got the new book and got it inscribed..but that would be put away for a later date. I left all disappointed. I scrounged about and scoured the interwebs and eventually found a signed copy of the first book. I wagered and bid and lost and lost and finally scored a copy! YAY! It arrived and was wonderful – both the author and the illustrator had signed it and drawn pictures and it was great.
This was a memory. I figured I would use the memory chips to make a memory box (of memory) and then fill that box with the book and other memories of my friend and that would be an awesome gift package. So I had the book, now to create the box. I gathered and sorted the memory (all this old 128 256 mb memory from laptops, discarded server memory, random computer boards, a box it would be!).
Like so many of my projects the idea was far easier to generate than the actual product. It ended up taking a few weeks to finish and was incredibly complicated. I learned a lot in the process – and the next time I try to make a box out of random sized components it will go much quicker. Anyway – some pictures of the steps and the stages….
This was me taking the individual chips and arranging them to fit the size of the book and also to determine the walls of the box – so this is the base and the sides laid out. I toyed with a few ideas about construction.
although I tested it as seen here with top and bottom and a semblance of the sides – I ended up abandoning this idea.
I played around with different configurations of the chips to see what might work – how do they fit together? I had to come up with something that was both interesting and symmetrical – and of course I had a wide variety of sizes, widths, depths of chips to deal with. This depth and width piece will also become important later –but suffice it to say proper clamping and forms to hold things in place will definitely be part of any project like this in the future.
So I finally decided on a composition and a structure – I put the bottom form together a couple of chips at a time with gorilla glue. So I would stick two chips together and then combine them with another chip but by bit (with plenty of drying time and repositioning inbetween) to come up with the base. Then for the sides:
Here I begin my first attempt at the walls. This step became quite a bit more difficult then I had imagined and my first effort—placing the walls on the outside edges of the base ended up being a bust. A promising start but the alignment and strength of the join became unwieldy – keeping the walls at 90 degree angles and straight well – that was unpleasant. I ended up starting over. I should probably have soldered this thing but ended up with a combination of gorilla glue and hot glue for stability. It ended up being quite sturdy but there were some trying times getting there.
A general gallery of the progress:
The semi-finished product. The lid is just sitting on there – I still needed to deal with the hinging and the clasp. This all took about two weeks. I neglected some other things I should have been doing but once I got started it was so cool looking that I couldn’t stop. I considered several times keeping the box for myself but I decided that it would be better to follow through on giving this memory box to the person who inspired it.
I ended up using hard drive ribbon cable for the lid hinge and a hard drive power cord connector for the clasp. The finished product ended up pretty darn spiffy if I do say so myself. (Not detailed are the hours and hours of scraping off excess gorilla glue that seeped through the joins and paring down the hot glue so as to make the whole thing less atrocious). Hours well spent anyway.
There is a little bit of the inside packaging visible here along with the ribbon cable hinge. I ended up filling the box with the aforementioned book, a pair of chopsticks from a restaurant my friend and I frequented (and the first place we had a meal together), and I also printed out text messages we had exchanged over several years and then cut them up and crumpled them to use as the packing peanuts. The Memory box made of Memory was then filled with memories. Super cool idea that ended up being really well executed – if I do say so myself – and even thought it took forever I was really really happy with the result. Although I had originally envisioned the memory box being the wrapping that was not going to fly – the box ended up being way too cool and a very integral part of the gift. So I decided to wrap the whole thing in the all-white style of wrapping my friend had previously demanded of the gifts I had wrapped for him. I added a few of my own touches. I used another memory chip as the gift tag – I painted over the chips themselves and inscribed the hangul for “Memory” on them and of course my name. I inscribed the gift to him with discarded keyboard keys, and the whole thing was wrapped in simple white.
So there it was –several weeks later and a ton of effort but I was happy with the result. It reflected my care, my thoughts, my feelings about my friend. I really felt like this gift captured so much and communicated so much about what I felt and also ended up being a piece of art – from the outside to the inside. So many layers of meaning and feeling and care and love. Yay! Success.
I left the package where my friend couldn’t miss it and…
I got an email saying thanks and it was really nice of me. Also – that my friend hoped I enjoyed the gift he gave me – woot! Unexpected but awesome – something in return.
I was overwhelmed with work and such so it took me a few days but I went to my office and saw a white wrapped box on my chair. And – then I opened it. You know how you say “I wish you wouldn’t have?” when getting a gift. Usually it is just something you say to deflect your real excitement and gratitude – like “you didn’t have to” etc. And sometimes it is just true. Here’s the thing.
I know it is the thought that counts. I know that one is and should be grateful to be thought of, to have any gift at all, to be considered and be thankful. But then there are also those times where the gift reflects so completely that the giver gave no thought, no care, no feeling, no effort, none of themselves into the gift that it would have been better to not have been given at all. The gift that says only “I had this around and since I felt I needed to reciprocate – here.” The gift that says I did the very least I could. The kind of gift that tells you exactly where you stand and how little you mean. It is the pretense of a gift and the pretense of caring and I wish it hadn’t happened at all. I don’t need or expect gift reciprocation – but if it happens at least make it not a punch in the face. Act like it mattered a little, or at all. Or you know, I guess I should just accept the lesson learned and the sentiment offered. Thanks. It was nice of you.