Today I want to talk about one of my favorite inventions: Washi tape!
Sure, masking tape works perfectly well but it’s a boring color. Super blah. Super bland. Painter’s tape may be an enticing blue or green (or pink if you’re serious about not damaging things) but even that is, well, monotone. Also, painter’s tape and masking tape, in general, can be quite thick.
Washi tape to the rescue! Washi is thin, comes in a ton of colors, sizes, and finishes and offers more versatility than traditional industrial masking tapes. All of which is ironic considering it was invented by an industrial tape manufacturer.
While masking tape itself was invented for the automotive industry by Richard Drew at 3M right here in the good ole’ US of A, the colorful masking tape known as Washi was invented by the Japan company Kamoi Kakoshi Co., LTD under the name MT Masking Tape at the request of customers. You can read more about the history of washi tape in my Encyclopedia entry.
Washi tape fulfills an entirely different role than then its predecessor. Washi is decorative and much thinner lending itself to use in crafting and art projects. It’s easy-to-tear, removes quickly without residue, is reusable, and is extremely easy to work with. It’s the best of both worlds: form and function! I have a bunch of different colors, textures, and widths. They’re also just pretty or cute and I find great joy in hunting for them in bargain bins at craft stores or at Daiso Japan.
There are hundreds of types of Washi tape made by many different manufacturers. Searching for Washi tape on Google returns a staggering 27,900,000 results. Amazon has over 2000 results too. That’s a lot of bamboo and mulberry, though most manufacturers actually use synthetic materials including Scotch’s own Expressions brand. I do like the Park Lane brand that Joann carries but it’s thicker than the Japanese-made tape usually.
Most people use it for paper crafting such as stationery, bullet journaling, and scrapbooking. Some use it for home decorating, and I’ve seen some cool uses for that (some of which I intend to try and report back on in the future). I did use Washi tape as a border for a piece of metal I was using to display some magnets. I have a small magnet addiction. I’m sure we’ll get into that later. 😂
Most of what I use Washi tape for is working with other types of materials. I always have spare pieces of tape stuck around my workspace waiting at attention for my need. Particularly when I’m working with my Cricut smart cutter.
So, without further ado…here are my top 5 uses for Washi tape:
- Hold faux leather down on the cutting mat. It’s especially useful when working with faux leather that comes in rolls because it wants to stay in its rolled-up form and doesn’t want to lay flat. I just make sure I leave about 1/8” clearance for the tape when I’m measuring and cutting my “leather”.
- Working with small pieces of paper or vinyl. I use Washi tape to secure it to my work surface. Works for when you’re prepping paper for use in a variety of projects, especially if the paper needs to be treated.
- Wrangle any rolled-up material such as the aforementioned faux leather, vinyl, parchment paper, posters, you name it. If it rolls and will unroll on you then Washi tape will save the day. Plus, it won’t ruin whatever you’re wrangling so added bonus.
- Fulfilling Etsy orders. I sell art posters and ship them in mailing tubes which requires that I roll them up first. I use the Etsy packing slip as a wrapper and secure it with Washi tape. When shipping vinyl, I use bits of thin cardboard dividers that I repurpose from Fancy Feast can boxes and the Fat Quarter squares from Joann. I put the vinyl between two of the dividers and secure them with Washi tape. It keeps the vinyl safe, and it adds a personal touch.
- Jewelry making. If I’m making jewelry that involves working with paint or anything that needs a clean line, I will use a bit of tape to make sure things stay where I want them. This is particularly useful for enameling if you want to make clean lines. The tape just burns off in the flame!
Welcome to the Wonderful World of Washi! What are you going to make with it? What do you use it for? Please post a comment below.
Thanks for reading!
Sources: 3M, Yoseka Stationery, MT Masking Tape, Google, Amazon