Tapes Galore: Resistance is Futile

November 8, 2010

See the full post for a look at a masking tape collage and comments about this and another unusual product.

101102TapeFinch Left: collage of an "angry" finch, made with decorative washi masking tape. This is on a fold out page, hence the crease about one inch in on the left—there is nothing on that page yet so I didn't include it in the scan).

In Friday's post I wrote about working in the journal I made as a demo for the current journaling class I'm teaching. I mentioned that it had odd pages—some of those odd pages actually fold out, like this one. (Don't fret, when I fill the rest of the page I'll post a complete scan.)

This class is also about getting the students to collage, and that's what this page is—a collage made with decorative masking tapes!

The holidays have already started at Wet Paint and when I was over there last week they had all these Japanese masking tapes printed with a variety of designs, solid colors, and even some tartans. The tape is ALMOST CERTAINLY NOT ARCHIVAL—it's simply decorative masking tape. But it's so appealing. I'd purchased some months ago when they got a few colors in, and decided I needed more colors.

What can you do with this tape? Well anything you want. The art police will not come knocking at your door. There's a book that you can special order for $45 which has actual tape samples in it (i.e., handwork is responsible for the price). Wet Paint will order it for you, expect about a month of waiting. Or you can look at the book in the store at the paper counter and see what other folks are doing with the tape—I warn you however, you'll also see all sorts of other patterns that aren't yet available so you'll get a little frustrated). There are pictures of school kids making entire art installation using the tape, people creating cool wrapped packages and household designs. You name it they are taping it. Who cares if it isn't archival? (Say that fast 6 times.)

The book is called "MT Kamoi Masking Tape Book." It isn't really a bound book, but a sample and idea collection. (It's held together with bulldog clips.) It's full of color photos. It seems to be compiled by Ayumi Horiuchi and she says the book focuses on the tapes of Kaomoi Kakoshio Company, Ltd. But she also points out that there are many companies making this tape and you can use any masking tape from any manufacturer. (Note, there is even a page on ordering your own customized tape, with your logo or design—however, since I don't know the exchange rate of dollars and Yen I can't tell you what it would cost, except that you need to order over 500 rolls so you better love that design.)

(If you want to find this tape elsewhere I'm sorry I don't have any other brand names to give you—apply yourself to Google. The author said there were many companies…)

Wet Paint calls it Washi Tape, and one label is MT (for Masking Tape) Japanese Washi Tape. It's sold in two- and three-roll sets (color matching) for $10 to $15.

Some other things you need to know. All the tapes are pretty much translucent. So my finch would read better for instance if it were on a white background, without the dark background color showing through. You can see how the grid tape is see through where it over laps at the corners of the frame.

About that frame. I made the white area by putting down some "Poppers" which are poster-making paper bits from Elmers (the glue people). They have borders and arrows and boxes and you name it and I looked at them and thought "Gee, ages 6 and up, that's me!" It didn't matter that I didn't have a school poster to make. I immediately thought they would be fun to use as stencils.

And that's what I did on this page: I positioned the diamond border pieces and then rubbed the page with a rubberstamp ink pad. (This is Rives BFK paper as a base.) I also added some metallic rubberstamp inks (the red-gold) that I smeared on—some got under the "stencil" in my rush. I was going to stop there and paint something inside the frame on the eggplant background, and then I realized all the tape I'd purchased was in analogous colors to that background—serendipity.

The paper border bits I used to stencil over are being retained for use somewhere else as they are now covered with ink. Oh, and I seriously doubt the border bits are archival either—the packaging was silent on that. The elements do, however, have repositionable sticky areas on their backs so you can move them around before deciding where to stick them. This is great for stenciling. But watch the loose edges (which I wasn't good about).

As for the bits I cut out for the bird: It was late and I wasn't thinking it through clearly and simply put tape on wax paper, and then looked through that to a sketch on my light table and cut. I then had to apply the pieces and since I'd been too random with tape organization I had to fussy cut some pieces. Better to think of it as cut paper collage and start a bit more organized, largest color block to smallest color block, like I did in this cut paper portrait I did of Emma. Of course Emma's portrait was also easier to do because it is a lot larger and even the small pieces were relatively easy to cut while holding the paper in my hand.

My final move on this finch piece was to smear (with a flat burnishing tool) clear gel medium over it all. I did not do this because I was trying to "preserve" the tape. I did this because there are so many small, fussy pieces that over time will get rubbed off. I wanted the gel medium to hold them in place. I rarely (2 times in the last 15 years that I can think of) use gel medium in my journals, but I thought this was a good use of it. My students will be able to page through this journal without finding little bits of tape and wondering where they belong. And if the page remains sticky I'll simply put in a piece of glassine to sit between the pages.

I was pretty messy about the application of gel medium, so the some of the frame isn't covered, but like I said, it was late at night. I'll use the tape somewhere else in this journal in large strips and then I'll be able to see over time how it holds up to wear and tear and aging—creating a new patina all its own.

If you like tape, or need some odd ball impromptu stencils, or just want to enjoy the cool things in now for the holidays I suggest you get over to Wet Paint. (I picked up a large pad of Annigoni Designo for only $19 (it was almost $40). Really, they have gone crazy over there. You can get a 10-tube set of Daniel Smith's new bright "color theory" palette that they talk about in their catalogs, for only $110.00 (including a good watercolor brush). Don't get me started on the new books they've brought in to tempt holiday shoppers—it's just about time for me to go into my usual holiday season hibernation but I'm glad I caught a peek of it.

As usual, but I need to point this out so you know, I'm not fiscally involved with Wet Paint—I bought these materials and I am not paid by them to promote the store. I simply like to promote the wonderful independent art supply store I'm lucky enough to live near. I hope you do the same (i.e., support this wonderful store, or the wonderful independent art supply store you're lucky enough to live next to).

  1. Reply

    Roz, I am so glad you tried the tape. I have been tape crazy for awhile now, but haven’t collaged with it like you have here! What a fabulous way to use the tape!
    There is a book originally published in Japan, but now published in the U.S. (in English) called Cut It, Paste It, Sew It: A Mixed Media Collage Sourcebook. The artists are Japanese and they like to use these tapes in their collages. Here is the link to it on

  2. Reply

    Briana, I’ll check out that book, thanks for the link. Please bring your tape-festuned (sp?) journal pages to the Collective next time. I’d love to see them!

  3. Reply

    Terry, you need to get some of this tape! I’ve already changed this page a bit. New versions will post later.

  4. Reply

    I agree that tapes are fun. I have quite a collection and I’ve made my own version using gauze tape. If you’re interested, detailed instructions are on my blog:

  5. Reply

    Julie, thanks for writing in about this. I will go and check out your post!

  6. Reply

    Julie, I just checked out your link. This is very very fun indeed. I love what you are doing.

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