Creative Wrapping 2013

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For the past three years (2010, 2011, 2012) I’ve been posting about my yearly gift wrapping. This year I ended up doing something that fits a little bit in-between high tech and low tech.

Originally I had planned on 3D printing everyone’s names in large Helvetica block letters and gluing them to the packages. This turned into too big of a printing project for me to fit in during the holidays. My second idea was to print stencils on my Makerbot using the stencil font I created for the iPhones cases I made with Silvia Heisel. This also got nixed as printing big flat things (like stencils) are one of the hardest 3D prints to get right and also would have taken too long. So I settled on using my stencil font the old fashioned way with paper, knives, and paint. Below I have a list of software and hardware supplies I used for the project.




  • Card stock
  • Repositionable spray adhesive (I used this Krylon spray)
  • X-ACTO/craft knife (and make sure it’s sharp!)
  • Sponge brushes
  • Silver paint (looks pretty cool on brown paper)
  • Brown packing paper


Because the stencil font I wanted to use wasn’t a traditional font file (as it was written for the Write.scad library for OpenSCAD) I had to take a couple of extra steps to get it into a printable format for my stencils. First I used OpenSCAD to generate a list of names that I wanted to use for my stencils. I exported an STL from OpenSCAD and pulled it into SketchUp. Then I opened the saved SketchUp file in LayOut to help with scaling the stencils for print (pulling the model into LayOut isn’t mandatory but I think it gives you a cleaner print). You could also print a screenshot of your model in OpenSCAD if you don’t want to do the extra steps.

Exporting from OpenSCAD into LayOut
Exporting from OpenSCAD into LayOut


After printing I grabbed an X-ACTO knife and went to work cutting out all of the letters from the stencils. I tried to keep two names per stencil, this saved paper but also seemed to keep the stencils somewhat rigid. I think cutting out any more names than two would make the stencils too floppy.



I gave the back of each stencil and coating of repositionable spray adhesive and let it cure for 60 seconds. After curing the backs of the stencils were nice and tacky, I placed the stencil and did my best to press down all the thin edges for a good seal.


Lastly it was time to paint! I used my foam brush and silver paint to paint in the stencil. The paint was thiner than I had expected but the results still looked good after drying.


My results weren’t perfect, but all in all I think the stencils turned out OK. Some paint did bleed under the stencil on a few of the names, though I’m not sure if that was caused by my application of the stencils, or the card stock I used to create the stencils.

I’ve included a bunch of additional photos in the gallery below. One more year down, now I have a full year to think of something new and clever!