Like a lot of musicians, I tend to hate cutesy gift shop items plastered with gratuitous musical symbols. As the merch industry has proven over and over, slapping a treble or bass clef on a set of salt and pepper shakers or a kitchen whisk doesn’t make it a good gift. (Apologies if you actually own and enjoy such things. It’s just my own bias.)
However, I have several music-themed items in my home that are treasured gifts and most welcome: the framed set of stamps celebrating musicians; the Venetian mask made from sheet music of “Caro mio ben”; the set of Russian composer-inspired matryoshka dolls that were a particularly thoughtful gift from a surprising source. There’s something personal about each one that makes it truly, rather than superficially, meaningful, and it makes all the difference.
This clever kit seems to have the same potential, as it allows you to make a unique bear out of paper, creating an opportunity to customize a gift to the recipient’s taste, fach, background and/or signature colors. You could make one as an alternative to flowers post-performance, with an aria or song from the program. Composers could make a bear as a thank-you for a premiere or recording. Imagine a custom bear for a student who has just reached a big milestone. Or a series of bears for display in your home or studio, based on your favorite opera characters, bedecked with accessories and costumes, as appropriate.
The instructions and kit are just $20 from Uncommon Goods, and designed with a wide range of crafting skills in mind. So whether you’re a novice or a serious DIY’er, you can do something that works for you. It can be used over and over, to make each gift very affordable, and it looks like the pattern would also work with fabric and other flat, pliable materials, making the project almost infinitely variable. Even some flexible foods come to mind, for an unusual reception centerpiece, perhaps. What about kale and cabbage, or fruit leather stuffed with marshmallows?
OK, now we’re getting silly. But see where it takes you. Let us know what you come up with!