What is Washi Tape?

What is Washi Tape?
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What is washi tape and how do you use it?  These were my questions when I first discovered some craft tutorials on Pinterest featuring washi tape on the materials list.  The simple definition:  washi tape is a high quality masking tape made of rice paper.  Washi tape is used to embellish…stuff.

A few years ago, scrap-bookers and crafters were just starting to hear about this new product, originating in Japan, and a few scrapbook ideas, pages, and crafts were starting to crop up around the internet (circa 2007-2008).  Now, it’s everywhere!   Was it just me or did you say in your head “what is wah-huh?”  (Think back to the funny look on your face when you read the words “what is washi.”

According to Wikipedia.org, washi is a type of paper that was first created in Japan, most commonly made from fibers of the following plants: rice, bamboo, hemp, wheat, gampi tree, mitsumata shrub or paper mulberry.  Let’s break it down: washi literally translated, “wa” meaning Japanese and “shi” meaning paper.  The term typically refers to paper being made by hand in the traditional manner (in Japan).  Generally stronger and sturdier than regular paper, washi is used in many different Japanese paper arts in such as Origami, Shodo and Ukiyo-e, and has been for many years.

Fast forward to 2006, a group of artists in Japan approached a Japanese tape manufacturer to create colored masking tape for artistic use and purposes.  The new colored masking tape was a huge hit, both in Japan and internationally.  As using the tape in artistry and crafting caught on, artists and crafters started requesting new colors, patterns and sizes. 

What’s so special about washi tape?  Good question.  What’s all the fuss?  Washi tape is incredibly useful because you can write on it, reposition it, cut it, re-use it and much more.  The low-tack adhesive creates an extremely useful and incredibly easy-to-use product.  Not only that but as the trend picks up here in the States, more and more scrapbooking, paper and tape companies are producing higher and higher quality washi tape in gorgeous prints, patterns, color schemes and designs. 

What am I going to do with washi tape? You may ask.  Well, many things, especially repurposed household items (which I love), may be embellished and decorated with washi tape to: bring new life to old stuff, create interesting handmade gifts, repurpose or upcycle found items and decorate all sorts of office supplies, tools, utensils, and just about anything else you can add tape to.  The sky and your imagination are your only limits for how and why you might want to use washi tape. 

Okay, but what’s the cost of this funky little tape?  Glad you asked.  Being a scrapbook enthusiast for about 10 years and knowing that some trendy products are just a little too pricey, I was skeptical about purchasing my first roll of washi tape.  But alas, the allure of trying it overtook my checkbook’s common sense.  Luckily, it didn’t break the bank and in fact came in at my own personal rating of affordable and doable (as far as scrapbooking supplies go).  I purchased a couple of packages by Recollections on sale at Michael’s yesterday and here are the results:  $2.99/one package which contained 3 separate 10 yard rolls (30 yards per pack), which works out to approximately $0.01 cent per inch of washi tape. 

This brand is usually priced at $4.99/package which works out to $0.014 cent per inch.  I loved that I could buy one theme package containing 3 rolls with different patterns but all coordinating. (See image.)  After checking my receipt to share the prices with you, in retrospect I should have bought a few more.  But the Michael’s staff doesn’t seem to get tired of me so I’m sure I’ll be back there later this week.  Another thing to note, different manufacturers have taken to calling it by different names.  A few product names and descriptions I have found are: washi tape, crafting tape, tissue tape and decorative tape.  (Just in case you go to your local craft store and ask for washi tape and they look at you like you just grew a second head – clearly they are not up to date on their Japanese.)    

Now that you are an official washi tape expert, or at least an informed consumer, you would do well to try your hand at a few washi tape projects for your home and garden or to share with someone special.  I have included a few links at the bottom where you can view or shop for washi tape.  Follow us or our sister site on Pinterest for some washi tape project ideas.  Also, watch our site as I will be adding some washi tape projects over the next few weeks. 


Fun huh? 

Cute Tape – careful, this site may cause shrieking from cuteness overload

Etsy Shop: Pretty Tape – enter at your own risk (may cause spending)

Amazon.com – huge selection with many price points (for the frugal washi lover)


About The Author

Tia Davis is a writer, wife and mother, living happily ever after with her handsome prince and two charming boys in Western Idaho.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing and works from home as a content manager.  When she isn’t chasing little boys she is blogging about them at Mistress of Madness and Mayhem.

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