The Queue: Megumi Inouye

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

The Queue: Megumi Inouye

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.
December/January 2021 issue of American Craft magazine
Portrait of Megumi Inouye
blog post cover graphic for The Queue featuring Megumi Inouye

Introducing the Gift series of The Queue

A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, the Gift series of The Queue introduces you to the artists featured in the most recent issue of American Craft. We invite these inspiring individuals to share personally about their lives and work as well as the projects, books, podcasts, and more that are inspiring them right now.

For Megumi Inouye, the act of giving is both empowering and healing

Megumi Inouye is a northern California-based artist and educator who teaches workshops on sustainable gift wrapping and furoshiki wrapping. She's featured in "Wrapture," a piece in our December/January issue that explores the craft of gift wrapping. @giftwrapbymegumi

Portrait of Megumi Inouye

Photo courtesy of Megumi Inouye.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
My creative work is focused on sustainable gift wrapping and packaging. It’s my artistic vehicle for expressing a thought, an intention, and feelings of gratefulness. Equally, my practice is a representation of my appreciation for our environment and its resources by reusing, repurposing, and utilizing recyclable materials.

I owe my love for gift wrapping to my Japanese heritage and the cultural values that underlie the meaning behind the art of giving. Wrapping in the Japanese tradition embodies consideration for others, the importance of taking the time to reflect on the meaning behind one’s gifts, to express gratitude, and to show respect for the things we wrap by providing for their protection.

Megumi Inouye Reused Envelope Wrapping

Gift wrapped by Megumi Inouye. Photo courtesy of the artist.

During this time of isolation and social unrest, where are you finding beauty and how are you staying grounded?
This time of isolation and social unrest has magnified my sixth sense of inner thoughts and emotions. I’m not only noticing but also feeling things more intensely. I find beauty in this state of consciousness that brings me closer to my spiritual side, my surroundings, and the people around me. I am appreciating the simple details and routines of everyday life. What grounds me, though, is what has always grounded me—my husband, family, friends, the dogs in my life, and meaningful work. The pandemic, with what it's taken away, has only deepened my connection and commitment to the things that mean the most to me.

Gift wrapped by Megumi Inouye being placed in a mailbox

A map-wrapped gift by Megumi Inouye. Read more about her practice in "Wrapture," featured in the Gift issue of American Craft. Photo courtesy of the artist.

On the theme of our December/January issue, what does giving mean to you and your work, particularly during this challenging year?
The act of giving and wrapping with thoughtful intention has been life saving and soul nurturing, carrying me through this challenging year. The act of giving is transformational in that it takes you out of yourself to think of others, and this in itself is empowering. You become the designer of your life’s narrative to promote positivity rather than letting external factors take over your emotions. During this challenging time more than ever, my message would be to find simple ways to gift thoughtfully, wrap sustainably, and spread joy everyday.

What’s one of your go-to tools in your toolkit that the world should know about?
There is a Gift Wrap Cutter from Scotch 3M that is a useful tool for straight cuts on paper. It's a compact tool that is safer and easier to use than scissors, especially when cutting large sheets of paper. It’s one of my favorite gift wrapping tools worth sharing.

I consider furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping with fabric, an ingenious, sustainable, and reusable tool. By mastering a few basic knots and folding techniques, it can be used to wrap and even transport just about anything without using scissors, tape, or string.

Lemons wrapped by Megumi Inouye

Lemons wrapped by Megumi Inouye in the furoshiki style. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What research or writing are you doing, or seeing others do, that has you inspired?
Living in an area heavily impacted by the wildfires, the urgency to change our behaviors which cause harm to our environment is real. Recently, I have been focused on the holiday waste research findings of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), the nation’s leading organization devoted to helping people learn to be more environmentally responsible. According to NEEF, Americans every year discard an estimated 38,000 miles of ribbon, enough to wrap around the planet. Over 4 million tons of waste in the US alone is made up of unrecyclable holiday gift wrapping paper/accessories and paper bags that wind up in the landfill.

I initiated a social media holiday challenge inspired by my youngest daughter who brought this question to my attention: “Did you know if every American family wrapped just three presents this holiday season in reused material, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields?”

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. I would like to challenge artists, makers, and crafters to bring their creativity to sustainable gift wrapping as their canvas and participate in this #ecowrapchallenge. The world and the environment is in need of your inspiration! Here's how:

  1. Wrap three gifts in reused or recyclable materials. (Some of my favorite reuse materials have been grocery bags, fabric/furoshiki, newspapers or old magazines, maps, milk and juice caps, and old envelopes.)
  2. Post pictures of your gifts and hashtag #ecowrapchallenge.
  3. Tag your friends and challenge them to do the same.
During this challenging time more than ever, my message would be to find simple ways to gift thoughtfully, wrap sustainably, and spread joy everyday.
Bottles wrapped by Megumi Inouye

Furoshiki-wrapped wine bottles by Megumi Inouye. Photo courtesy of the artist.

I’ve continued to post my reuse wrapping ideas on my Instagram @giftwrapbymegumi. More ideas can be found at #sustainablegiftwrapping. Even a small change can make an impactful difference for the future of our planet.

"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Copies of American Craft magazine open at a work station

Photo: Charmaine Vegas

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