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How to Make Decorative Tape

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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

Supplies for Making Tape

Supplies for Making Tape

Your basic tape-making supplies are very few, you can start with just three...

  • Double-sided craft tape
  • Scissors
  • 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.
Lay papers out, pretty side down.

Lay papers out, pretty side down.

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.

Rows of double-sided tape.

Rows of double-sided tape.

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.

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Home made washi tape

Home made washi tape

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Jennibellie's Washi Tape Tutorial

Using vintage papers.

Using vintage papers.

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.

Masking tape on waxed/freezer paper.

Masking tape on waxed/freezer paper.

Decorate rows of masking tape.

Decorate rows of masking tape.

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.

Rubber stamping masking tape.

Rubber stamping masking tape.

Using tape to 'smash' journal.

Using tape to 'smash' journal.

Any Sticky Comments?

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on August 19, 2019:

It's fun to make... and I still have some left years later. However, it loses its sticking power after a while :)

RTalloni on August 19, 2019:

What a great idea. Am liking the idea of using my own designs to make greeting cards.

Virginia Kearney from United States on August 19, 2019:

This article opens up a lot of ideas! Thanks for the idea about the paper towels especially!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on February 13, 2014:

Thanks, aintnoninny. It's fun - it won't be perfect (well mine isn't), but it gives pages a nice handmade look. I used some yesterday.

aintnoninny on February 12, 2014:

Just found this as I was about to order some Washi tape for the first time. Think I'll try this first. Awesome tutorial!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 02, 2012:

Oh, yes, I'd like another hour or two, Judi Bee. Let me know if you find any! Thanks for popping in!

Judi Brown from UK on September 02, 2012:

Like Natasha, not sure how I missed this one. Plus I've just noticed Creative Lettering for Art Journals, so I'm off to read that one. Need someone to write a hub about how to make more hours in the day so that you can follow up on great ideas you find!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 02, 2012:

That's a great idea, mollymeadows! Would work on Christmas and other greetings cards too!

Mary Strain from The Shire on September 02, 2012:

This is so clever! I love the idea of decorative tape! I remember when people used to communicate with letters and cards ;-) and a dab of this beautiful tape would make a beautiful seal on the back of an envelope. Great idea!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on September 02, 2012:

@phdast7 - I feel the same - I feel quite cheated that I didn't know that you could 'play' at art. Always thought I wasn't good enough at drawing or painting. Or writing, for that matter!

@Natashalh - :-) There's not enough time in the day to visit all the hubs we'd like to! Thank you xxx

Natasha from Hawaii on September 02, 2012:

How did I miss this when you wrote it? I love these instructions! Voted up and awesome.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on September 02, 2012:

Absolutely marvelous! You explain everything so clearly and the photographs are terrific. Why didn't I know about this when I was in my twenties and thirties as a stay at home mom? I had time for crafts then (sewing, quilting, decoupage, homemade Christmas ornaments - that was about it) and worked on all kinds of things once the children were in bed. I would have loved to have done this and made and used "decorative tape."

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on June 27, 2012:

Thanks Susan and Artsfuse :-) I made some more the other day - so easy to do and you can use almost any kind of paper.

Artsfuse from NZ on June 27, 2012:

great idea..will have to give it a go...

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2012:

This looks like it would be a lot fun to do. Very creative!

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on June 11, 2012:

Thank you, randomcreative. I hope you do - it's fun!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on June 10, 2012:

Great job with this tutorial! I would love to try this sometime.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on June 10, 2012:

Thanks, Brainy Bunny and coolenconnections. It really is very simple to do.

Suzanne Sankey from Sarnia on June 10, 2012:

Awesome tutorial! I recently discovered smashbooking and love the concept behind it. I love the idea for making the tape with 2 sided tape. I have used ds tape mostly in sewing.. I can't wait to try this!

Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on June 10, 2012:

I love washi tape, but it never occurred to me that you could make your own! Thanks for the great ideas and instructions.

Bev G (author) from Wales, UK on June 10, 2012:

Yes, but I can't cook! Thank you, GoodLady. x

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on June 10, 2012:

Liked this a lot. I'm hopeless at arts and crafts I think, though my sister is wonderful at them, so I'll send her this Hub. She makes everything into everything and her home looks wonderful. Thanks.

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