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What is Washi Tape? 5 Fun Facts About Our Favorite Tape Trend

Posted by Claudia Aguilar

What is Washi Tape? Find out everything you need to know about this crafting staple.

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When it comes to crafting basics, washi tape has become a popular staple for beginners and pros alike. With its user friendly flair and design variety, it's pretty hard to resist. So what is washi tape? Where did these pretty rolls of tape come from? What are they made of? Why can't crafters stop obsessing over them? Here are five fun facts to help guide you through the whimsical world of washi tape.

1) It’s Japanese

The word washi translates to Japanese (wa) paper (shi) -- it literally means Japanese paper tape. Before it became the pretty patterned tape we now know and love, washi was simply known as a durable Japanese paper made from the strong natural fibers of native Japanese trees and plants. When the paper is screenprinted with traditional Japanese designs (see below), it becomes a beautiful fine paper with multiple uses. The undecorated paper was also turned into masking tape for industrial use long ago because of its durability and toughness.

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2) Washi tape was born in 2006

While washi has been around for over a thousand years as paper and industrial masking tape, it wasn't until 2006 that it became the artistic tape we know today. It was then that a group of women from Tokyo contacted the industrial masking tape company, Kamoi Kakoshi, with a beautiful book using their tapes in new artistic ways.

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Suddenly the tape became more than just a tool -- it was now an art form. The women were invited to the factory and their visit inspired the production of a new category of colorful tapes to be used specifically for arts and crafts. They called the line "mt" for masking tape and it wasn't long before it became extremely popular with Japanese school children, interior designers and artists.

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3) You can tear it and reposition it

So what is washi tape known for? Its usability! Because the thin paper tape is made from flexible plant fibers, it can be torn and easily applied to a variety of surfaces. The low tack adhesive on washi tape allows for it to be easily repositioned and it leaves no sticky residue when removed. This makes it an ideal material for temporary home or office decor because it can be applied to most walls and objects without damaging surfaces when removed. However, it's always a good idea to test a small piece first just to be sure.

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4) You can write on it

Since it's made of paper, you can easily write on washi tape! Use it to create removable labels, notes, or tags on gifts. Always test the pen or marker first, but most permanent inks work great. Small stamps and permanent ink pads can also be used to create custom washi tape.

5) It’s transparent

The thin paper used to create washi is often sheer making it great for layering. It's fun to experiment with different colors and patterns as some designs will show through others, creating a new pattern or color. It will also allow the surface it is placed on to show through so working with patterned papers, objects and other printed materials will often yield one-of-a-kind results.

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What is washi tape most loved for? It's both functional and pretty! Now that you've learned the basics of this wonderful crafting accessory grab some for yourself and start experimenting. Add it to otherwise mundane objects to make them fun and appealing. Use it to easily make custom greeting cards, washi tape stickers or even a washi tape custom notebook. You'll see how easy it is to become a washi tape fanatic in no time!

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