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How to Make Decorative Tape
Home Made Washi Tape
Scrapbooks, altered books and art journals have been all the rage in recent years, but the latest method of keeping a record of one's life is 'smash journaling'. What is a smash journal? It's been described as an 'unscrapbook', a blank book where all the bits and pieces you collect, such as tickets, photos, postcards, receipts, messages, etcetera are stored. They are glued in, or more often, taped in with decorative tape. One of the most popular kinds is washi tape, a delicate Japanese paper tape.
There are lots of varieties of washi tape available but wouldn't it be more fun and satisfying to make your own?
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Supplies for Making Tape
Your basic tape-making supplies are very few, you can start with just three...
- Double-sided craft tape
- A selection of lightweight papers
The papers I often use are rather unusual but not difficult to find. As I am working on various art projects, I have a roll of paper towel near by to clean my brushes and to dab off excess paint. They get all squished and scrunched up but I don't throw them in the trash. When I have finished each project, I gather up the used, dried-out paper towels and carefully unscrunch them. Then, when I think they would be perfect in another project (such as making tape), I iron them.
I also use lightweight mulberry paper and crafter's tissue paper.
Other supplies that would be helpful:
- Rubber stamp and ink pad
- A cardboard tube or empty ribbon spools
- Masking tape
- Freezer/waxed paper
- Paint, markers, watersoluble crayons.
Making Washi Tape - Step One
Lay down three, or more, papers side by side. Make sure the attractive side is face-down. Here you can see I have selected three pieces of paper towel - they are a bit ragged but that's okay. If you can, try to separate the plies (the layers); sometimes you can, but sometimes they are too stuck together, especially if they are covered in acrylic paint like mine are.
Home Made Tape - Step Two
Lay down several rows of double-sided tape on the back of the papers. Go right across all three papers, making sure that they are close together.
How many rows you lay down depends on how much tape you want to make. I decided to stick ('scuse pun) with just the three rows on this batch
Trim off the excess paper towel - you can save it to use again - but don't cut the individual rows just yet. Turn the taped paper over and decide whether it requires further decoration. I thought mine would be improved with a little rubber stamping. It already had little bits of gold paint stuck to it, which looked really nice. I grabbed my favorite stamp and randomly stamped the paper with black ink (see photo below). Then I carefully cut between the three rows of double-sided tape.
At this point you can use the tape as is by peeling off the backing, or you can store it on a cardboard tube, an empty ribbon spool or even in a book as Jennibellie shows you in her Washi Tape/Ribbon Storage Book Tutorial. If using a cardboard tube, simply use a little masking tape to hold the ends in place.
Jennibellie's Washi Tape Tutorial
Making Tape With Vintage Papers
You can try making some tape with other kinds of papers. I laid down three vintage papers - some sheet music and two pages from an old atlas (don't worry it's falling apart and would have ended up in the trash). I then proceeded as above but omitted adding any further decoration - though, of course, you could if you wanted to. The papers, being thick weren't as flexible as the paper towel tape, and, I wouldn't bother using them in this way again - if I wanted a strip of vintage paper, I'd simply cut or tear it and glue it down.
Decorating Masking Tape
It is possible to make perfectly good decorative tape with just masking tape and a few art supplies.
Lay out some waxed/freezer paper - I used three A4 sheets - and cut masking tape to the required length. Stick down as many strips as you wish - cover the whole waxed paper, if you like. Then just start decorating it. Use paint, markers or crayons - anything you have. I used Letraset Aquamarkers (water-based) and permanent marker, only because the Aquamarkers are new and I wanted to try them out. I then sprayed with water to activate the markers. Once dry, I rubber-stamped the tape like a crazy rubber-stamping thing. The final result is shown in the photo below.
You could make sheets and sheets of this kind of tape. Store flat and peel off when needed. I cut mine into strips just so I could roll it onto my snazzy cardboard tube - see photograph at the top of the page.
Haven't got the time or inclination to make your own tape? This black and white set of three rolls are perfect for a sophisticated, modern look.