December 30, 2013

'Drab to fab'

Washi tape — adhesive but easily removed and available in hundreds of colors and patterns — is putting a new spin on holiday decorating.

The original thin, sheer tape derived from rice paper was imported from Japan and pounced on about eight years ago by scrapbooking fans and other paper crafters. Its popularity has grown as a creative and simple way to add a personal touch to holiday gifts, wrapping or party decorations.

Washi tapes “tear like butter and they adhere to everything lightly,” says Hannah Milman, executive editorial director of crafts and holiday for Martha Stewart Living.

Washi tape has become so popular that it’s now made by U.S. companies such as Scotch Brand from 3M and sold at large stores such as Target. Martha Stewart Living boasts its own line, as do many paper-supply companies. Two well-stocked online sources are cutetape and Happy Tape.

Quality varies and not all tapes are washi, which is made from transparent washi paper that easily tears. Other tapes may be labeled “decorative” or “craft.”

Quick and easy gifts include covering an uninspiring notebook or phone cover with patterned washi tape, or decorating an inexpensive white photo frame with it.

“You can spend thousands of dollars on white frames,” says Eddie Ross, Better Homes & Gardens’ East Coast editor. “But you can really do a lot with a colorful washi tape and a (simple) white frame.”

Gift-wrapping ideas from Martha Stewart Living’s crafts editors include adding a strip of washi to envelopes; or wrapping cookies in wax paper, or gifts in butcher or craft paper, newspaper or paper lunch bags, then decorating with washi tape instead of ribbon.

You can update old ornaments with washi tape, or try this fast craft from Kimberly Sneed of Phoenix, who blogs at A Night Owl and The Washi Blog: Adorn a papier mache ornament with two coordinating washi patterns, topped with a craft-store monogram.

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