S.A.P. CD Packaging


Finally coming in the home stretch of the “Songs About Packaging” project. Recording is now all done and packaging is almost done. I went with DIY packaging with re-purposed materials from my own personal recycling bin. Ties into the whole “Litter Rock” gestalt of the project and dovetails nicely with the limitations of my budget.

I expect to have enough of them assembled in time to distribute them for free at the landfill gig. (If you’re going to be in NY area on Saturday, Sept. 26th and would like to attend, follow this link for more info.)


CD label and side sticker are ink-jet printed on kraft paper. The white UPC is a separate label. I got my bona-fide UPC number via CD Baby. (Since I don’t expect to be putting out enough products to justify paying the $760 fee to GS1 for my own “company prefix number” any time soon.) I figure I might as well stick with these labor-intensive, DIY handmade covers for the foreseeable future. If S.A.P. ever threatens to go platinum or anything, I’ll re-evaluate at that time…


Lyric booklet is that kind of 8-page booklet that you can make from a single sheet of letter-sized paper. (Another ridiculously labor-intensive part of the project.)

(One more “product shot” after the fold…)

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Mason Jar Mousetraps

I saw this “Mason canning jar with lid converted to make a mousetrap, c. 1865.” on the website for Marilynn Gelfman Karp’s book: In Flagrante Collecto, caught in the act of collecting. Similar to the later patent below. (Hope they cited prior art…)

I like these inventions that turn a package or a reusable container into something else entirely. The mason jar (or “fruit jar”) was, for a time, a standard, universal part that inventors could design their special-function lids to fit onto. Almost like computers and software: with the right lid/application, your mason jar could become a mousetrap or a minnow catcher, etc. Mason jars were like open source software. Freeware for imprisoning mice. (More rodent travails: here)



(Lots more mason jar traps, after the fold…)

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Glass Jar Minnow Traps


Following up on the packaging-as-imprisonment theme: auction photos from the “Glass Minnow Trap Collection of Gary Paschal.” (Also see: Greenhead Fly Traps)

From the auction catalog site:

Paschal met with his first glass trap, an early Orvis model, while hunting for tackle in the Midwest, far from its original manufacturer. The original glass minnow trap operated on a simple concept, yet one that would be re-invented time and again, making for unusual configurations by different makers. The premise of the minnow trap was marketed most successfully under large retailers such as Orvis and Shakespeare. These companies produced variations on a line of full bodied traps that incorporated not only function but style appeal. The success of retail traps would spawn a host of competition, earlier from glassmakers, and later from those looking to cut cost and produce traps that were far less fragile. The range of traps showcased in this collection, which encompasses the most unusual of those Paschal purchased over the years, shows the diverse nature of the earliest examples. Most were made in small numbers, and due to the easily damaged glass, few of this era survived. Those made by small firms, which produced variated models of their more successful counterparts, did not sell well and disappeared from the market after very short exposures. The combination of their delicate nature and very short lived production, makes this collection of the rarest glass traps exceptional, and the finest to ever come to auction.

There were also minnow trap kits which enabled fishermen to retrofit an ordinary mason jar into a functioning minnow trap. As with all consumer collectibles, these are worth more when the packaging survives. (Yes, these jars came in boxes.)

(See boxed minnow trap jars, after the fold…)

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Too Late’s Wristwatch in a Jar


This is not the photo I wanted. At Gift Fair, what I saw at Too Late’s booth were rows and rows of jars, each containing a single brightly colored rubber watch. The only packaging photos I could find online were ones like these, where, naturally, the intention was to feature the product rather than the packaging. (I guess I should have just brought my camera.)

But you get the idea: a product that borrows its packaging from another product category. (Like jeans packaged in paint cans and the like.)

Here is the company’s own rather breathless assessment from their web site:

What could be said about the packaging? Too Late watches are place in a sparkling, well-rounded and Eco-friendly glass jar. This innovative packaging, first in the world for a watch, has received a nomination at the 2009 Condè Nast Design & Innovation Awards in London.

I'll say this: the rows of jars containing multi-colored watches, made for a cool display.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Esque Studio’s Bottles etc.

Top: Another glassware gun—this one’s an object d'arte paper-weight, rather than a container, although it is probably made of glass from melted beer bottles; lower left: vases based on those bear-shaped honey containers; lower right: “JP’s Apothecary”—hand blown from recycled beer bottles. (Boxes are handmade from reclaimed wood and the backdrop is mirrored)

The altered green beer bottles (below) are what drew me to Esque Studio’s booth at Gift Fair. Glass-blowing duo, Justin Parker and Andi Kovel make high-concept, decorative glassware.


I spoke briefly with Justin at their booth and learned that, although they still use “pure glass“ (for customers that prefer their glass: crystal-clear and bubble free), their re-melted, recycled glass work has become increasing popular—both for its appealing imperfections and its eco-cachét.

(Another variation on their re-purposed beer bottle theme, after the fold…)

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ZIPit Packaging

Photos from a review of the ZIPit in The Gadgeteer

I saw another packaging-related product at Gift Fair: the ZIPit battery operated clamshell package opener.

Unlike some manufacturers in this product category, they wisely avoided the negative irony of packaging their product in clamshell, opting instead for a paperboard carton. Not a prize-winning graphic design effort. (Might also be mistaken for a Glad garbage bag box.) Still, it does communicate the “As seen on TV” vibe that this product embodies…

The thing is, this is not the only “Zip It” product on the market. As is often the case with trademarked names, there are a number of other “Zip It” retail packages to be found in other product categories…

(See more Zip It packaging, after the fold…)

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Ridley’s House of Novelties Packaging

I attended Gift Fair this past weekend. These extreme vintage boxes for Wild & Wolf’s “Ridley’s House of Novelties” got my attention. I think the illustrations really capture the dime-store/magic-shop gestalt of these products.

I was also impressed with how far they were willing to go with the faux-vintage background color of these boxes. Personally, I’m attracted to the time-worn look of old retail boxes that you find in thrift shops, but I wonder if some stores might be put off by packages that looks almost shop-worn even though they’re brand new. (Of course, pre-washed denim sold alright when that came out, so maybe it’s a non-issue.)

Also: check out the knockoff Doublemint—“Pure Mint”—joke gum pack on the “5 Classic Jokes” box.

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Douglas Coupland’s Plastic Bottle Sculptures

Upper left photo: by Martin Tessler for The New York Times; upper right: photo of the 2001 “Spike” installation at Totem Gallery; lower photos: mug shot photos of “Bottle No. 5 Downey”

I saw this article in the NY Times last week about writer/artist, Douglas Coupland’s home renovation project. The photo above (with the over-sized (unlabeled) Downy Fabric Softener bottle at the base of the stairs) caught my eye. I figured: if Coupland made this one package-related sculpture, then he must have made others…

I found them in the 2001 “Spike” installation at Totem Gallery.

The inspiration for … the sculptures was a family crisis, Mr. Coupland said. His niece, Sarah, was born in Vancouver two years ago without a left hand, at a time when statistics there marked an upward turn—a spike—in birth defects…

The sculptures include huge plastic bottles, recognizable even without labels—Tide, Downy, Alberto VO5. Mr. Coupland had a vision one night in a Vancouver Wal-Mart, he said. He was struck with the beauty of detergent bottles and bought dozens.

“'Any passion to collect has some meaning behind it,” he added. The meaning was revealed when a friend pointed out that the bottles were all shaped to attract the hand—and that they contained chemicals that might cause birth defects.

from A night out with: Douglas Coupland; Escape From Gen X
By Phil Patton, NY Times, September 9, 2001

It turns out that Coupland has done plenty of other package-related artworks. Too many examples to show them all here…

(But I’ll show 4 more, after the fold…)

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Sprite Fridge Pack as Stone Soup

From Ogilvy & Mather, India: a commercial touting the convenience of the 1.25 litre size bottles as “fridge packs.”

Said Ajay Gahlaut, group creative director-Delhi, Ogilvy & Mather, “The story line depicts the Sprite way of using the fridge pack and its handiness at home…

The TVC [TV commercial?] depicts four youngsters who are staying together in a typical bachelors’ pad. These youngsters have nothing but a Sprite Fridge Pack in the fridge and have no idea what they are going to do for dinner. The plot unfurls when the protagonist, armed with the Sprite Fridge Pack at home, uses his quick wit to convince their neighbour to cook them a meal.

via Campaign India

I can’t speak Urdu so I don’t understand the dialog in this commercial, but the idea of using cleverness or “quick wit” as a means of tricking strangers into acts of generosity (as described in the synopsis above) seems to owe quite a bit to the old “Stone Soup” folk tale. (Sprite, being the stone in this case)

Randy Ludacer
Beach Packaging Design

Cadbury Egg Shaped Car(s)

Photo of car on right from Gothickma’s Flickr Photostream

Cadbury’s foil-wrapped, creme-filled chocolate improvement upon the egg—the very egg, which many regard as sufficiently “perfect” in its own right. And then, as if to guild the Easter lily even further: a Cadbury Creme Egg shaped car. Another package-shaped vehicle. (Also see: vehicle-shaped packaging.)

And this ‘humorous’ clip about the car—(doing the self-similar, fractal thing, as well as the packaging costume thing).

(More egg-shaped vehicles, after the fold…)

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Giant Biscuit Packs


New outdoor advertising campaign—(by Navia Asia and Encyclomedia Networks for Sunfeast’s “Marie Light” biscuits)—features giant floating biscuit packs. (Playing up the “lightness” of the product.) Their TV advertising also features lighter-than-air, floating packages…

(A video of the “Sunfeast Van” in action, after the fold…)

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Packaging & Archeology

BeerCanArcheologyPhoto from Stephen Bodio’s Querencia blog

Following the thread of William Rathje’s Garbage Project and “Pull-Tab Typology”…

The photo above and the explanation below are from Stephen Bodio’s Querencia blog:

I am fortunate to work with quite a few people who can look at the bottom of a old glass Chlorox bottle and tell you within five years or so when it was made. So my colleague Juston here was pretty darned excited to come across this cache of old cone top beer cans…

…prominently displayed around a 1970s pull-tab can, a flat top “church key” type, and what appears to be an oil filter. There was enough of the label remaining on the cone top at the far left to identify it as Eastside Beer, brewed by the Los Angeles Brewing Company.

Beer Can Archaeology

(More about packaging & archeology, after the fold…)

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