handmade giftsRock, Shell, Bead and Brick – Easy to Make, Free Gifts

I needed a little break from collage so I picked up my pliers and wire and started wrapping rocks. Call them tchotkes, doodads, fetishes, what have you, I don’t care — I’m on a tear. Earlier in the year, I blogged about finding finding a bunch of beach brick down in Galveston, most of it likely to be remnants of hurricane Ike, which manifested its horrible self here on the Gulf Coast during September of 2008. The bricks’ humble shapes spoke to me, softened as they are by sand and salt water. As for rocks, I’ve tended to pick them up wherever I go. Funny, though — looking through my scattered-around-the-house collections, I realized you can never really have too many rocks. Indeed, I need more! For purposes of wrapping as small sculptures, the less rounded the better, and also it’s best to have at least some flat surface area.

handmade giftAnd so my season of Christmas gift-making began. I pulled in all sorts of supplies that were otherwise languishing in my study — ribbon, beads, shells, etc. Though not used in any of the photos above, I also have a small stash of plastic-coated telephone wire, delightful because it comes in many colors, some of them even striped. Wish I could get my hands on more of that stuff! I also began to incorporate small pieces of driftwood into these small assemblages. Yesterday I took a short day trip to Galveston to see what else I could find on the beach. The softened bricks were less abundant and the pieces I found were often small. I imagine most of it has now been buried in the sand or carried away by beachcombers.

Brick has been around for at least 5,000 years. It makes sense that the first bricks were made in the Middle East, where rocks are in short supply. What are bricks made of? Clay, shale and sand mostly. After being formed, they are baked in furnaces for as many as 100 – 200 hours. I took several semesters of ceramics in college, and now I’m thinking it would have been fun to make some artisan bricks, but life is short and I’ll let that thought go!

rock gift

Is it just me, or does this time of year seem to speed up and rush towards the holidays? My time and attention span for blogging, not to mention household chores, is in short supply. And so I’ll say adieu and get back to my gift-making…. The rocks and wire are calling me. Happy holidays!

photos: 3 wrapped rock/brick assemblages by KAO

Originally published December 1, 2011