Introduction: Wrapping Paper From Butcher's Paper

Christmas time usually means presents, and that usually means buying some wrapping paper. Now that isn't terribly expensive, but I didn't feel like going out in the cold, damp rain. And making a bit of wrapping paper is unique and more personal for a gift to a loved one.

So I improvised with what I had on hand:

A large roll of butcher's brown paper, that I bought for large sketches, mockups and so on.

Two cans of spray paint, one copper, one silver, left over from a steam punk project

The thin cardboard cover of a conference catalogue

A sharp knife and a cutting surface

Step 1: Getting Ideas

The supplies were at hand, but how to use them....

In my mind's eye, I saw minimalist Christmas trees from advertsing in the late 1950's and early 1960's. So I googled "Christmas tree illustrations 1950's and 1960's" to help flesh out my ideas. Some of the results are in the image.

Step 2: Making Your Design and Template

At first I thought of cutting out a larger template with many trees. After thinking about it I realised that it would be less work to use a simple, small template.

The design was sketched, then taped over some thin cardboard- in the case the cover to a conference catalogue.(The Canadian Federation for the Humanities & Social Sciences congress 2015).

The cardboard was taped to my rotating work surface, and the pattern carefully sliced out.

I didn't know it at the time, but the cut out shapes would be useful...

Step 3: Spray Painting the Image

Do this step in a well ventilated area, as the fumes can make you sick.

Using a very light coat is best as it dries quickly.

Place the template on the paper, shake the spray can, hold it about 45cm/ 18inches from the template and lightly spray the target area, moving your arm at the elbow to gently to paint the surface.

Repeat as necessary to create the design on your wrapping paper.

Having a misty, uneven coat was deliberate. You can experiment with different techniques until you find what you like. A little, light spray that spills beyond the edge can look good, once you've finished, so you need not be too concerned about that.

Step 4: Serendipity: Discovering a Negative Image

After making a few initial images, I laid the template down, with the excess paint face down on my cutting board/work surface. When I picked it up, it left the negative image on the cutting surface you see above.

LiGHtT BulB!

I tried it on the paper, and you can see the results in the second image. I really liked the effect, but wanted less painted-on colour. So I used the cut out cardboard from the previous step, added a little handle, and made a negative template.

These images I outlined with silver, and only lightly. I held the spray can about an arm's length from the paper and sprayed a light coat around this template.

Step 5: Wrapped

The final parcel is wrapped simply, but elegantly, I think. The colours were subdued, but I was working with what I had. The template works well with spray paint, but you could use almost any paint medium you like. Kid-safe gouaches and water colours (look for the ACMI Art & Creative Materials Institute certification) will keep them busy.

If you had holiday themed cookie cutters you could spare, those might make for interesting patterns

The choice of colours and pattern is really up to you, and what you think the gift recipient would like. Missus Claus likes this sort of low-key approach, but son of Claus would probably prefer red and black with skulls(ahhh, youth).

There are also some other great instructables on making wrapping paper, and you could mix and match the techniques to get a truly unique result.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!