Washi tape, I love you.

My love of utilitarian office supplies and patterned card stock come together in the form of washi tape. When I was a little girl, I was always infatuated with small displays of patterned card stock found in stationery stores. This was long before scrapbooking became a “thing” and patterned papers became ubiquitous.

Authentic Japanese washi is a type of tape made from rice paper. So I think of it as in between paper and tape…. but it’s definitely tape! I like that it adheres to art journal pages, even those I’ve painted with acrylics… I can also paint acrylics on top of washi. And I also like the tactile qualities - I can simply tear it with my fingers and can work quickly to add a bit of color or pattern when the mood strikes. It can be layered in visually interesting ways.

It is removable - yet simultaneously strong enough so it doesn’t disintegrate or fluff off of the page. It can be used to adhere tarot cards or index cards or ATCs as tip-ins to the gutter of a book or art journal so that the card can flip back and forth with both sides still visible to the viewer.

Japanese washi tape.
Collage with washi tape embellishment.

I like that it doesn’t leave residue and that I can change my mind and remove/reposition. Sometimes I combine/layer so that one washi is partially covering another.

My washi tape isn't organized — no color-coded methodology! I just want to reach in, land on something interesting, and go from there.

So I keep washi upstairs on my art desk so that I can use in art journaling, collage, and index card art. Then downstairs in a drawer I keep another dozen handy for embellishing mail art, decorating envelopes, and putting together outgoing art journal prompt cards. If you do mail art or mail art swaps, you likely already have a ginormous stash.

In a pinch, can even be used as a delightfully imperfect mask for watercolor, acrylics, or gouache.

For my own journal work, after lots of trial & error, I prefer Japanese washi. Many are from MT, a brand sold widely in Japan. You can find it in many shops at Etsy. Here’s one of my favs, a delightful floral tape. The company releases new patterns each year so it’s always fun to see what direction the patterns take. I’ve purchased tapes from other origins that “feel” different or don’t work the same. Like they might be too sticky, or not removable, or fall off quickly, or aren’t easy to tear, maybe even shred a bit while still on the roll.

If you enjoyed this washi wrap-up [pun intended], you might like my reviews of other materials used in mixed media art, including… Neocolor wax crayons, Gelly Rolls, and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay Inks. And just in case you’re curious, there’s a ginormous curated post about my favorite art materials for art journalists and sketch artists.

I've purchased MT washi from several Etsy shops… be sure to select the japanese washi. Try Pretty Tape [website] and Paper Plus Cloth also has great service. Enjoy!

Art journal collage in a moleskine journal.
Washi galore.
Washi embellishments.
Keeping washi tape in reach.
Decorating Altoid tins with washi tape.
So photogenic.
Visual list-making.

A long-ago-journal-swap with Hanna where we made visual lists of our top Neocolors and washi tapes. I stamped next to the Neocolors and directly on the washi with stamping ink and alphabet stamps. Love these pages! PS. Hanna made a blank journal for me and I made one for her back in 2012 and we filled the journal with lists.

Dark indigo washi that is like fabric.
Packaging counts as ephemera.
Patterned washi is wonderfulness.
Holding it all together.
Continuing patterns with magic markers.
Using washi to create frames.