Recently a type of tape relatively unheard of in the western crafting world hit our shores from the Far East. The tape, first made in Japan, suddenly became the season’s must have for scrap-bookers, card makings and crafters alike with new designs and creations popping up online every single day. But what is the mystical tape? And what makes it so wonderful? 

Washi, the paper from which the tape takes its name, originates from Japan and is traditionally created from a pulp of mitsumata (a Japanese shrub) and fibres from gampi tree bark. The term actually describes the process of making the paper, and so today Washi paper often contains bamboo, hemp and rice extracts.

The paper is tougher than typical western style paper, which is made using wood pulp, which means it is incredibly popular in Japanese arts and crafts. The likes of Origami, Shodo and Ukiyo-ewere were all traditionally created using Washi although other items such as toys, clothes and wreaths also created using the technique.

The Washi manufacturing process is unique and bears more intricacies than the process used to make traditional western paper. It uses very few chemicals and is usually undertaken in the winter months, where low temperatures and cold running water create the paper’s toughness and crisp texture. The cold also kills of any bacteria that would otherwise decompose the paper’s fibres.

Over the past few years, crafters in the west including right here in the UK have re-discovered Washi in the form of tape and all the benefits it has for crafting. In fact, its popularity has exploded due to its appearance on social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

Washi tape actually feels a lot like masking tape, and it shares many of the properties of masking tape in that it is tough, strong and durable. Unlike normal masking tape however, Washi tape is bright, colourful and incredible pretty, making it perfect for use on cards, scrapbooks and all manner of crafting projects! It comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs meaning it can be used in almost any situation.

In fact, sites such as shop dozens of different varieties, all of which are worth having in stock. Designs range from simple, block colours to intricate patterns, text and pictures. As the tape has become so popular recently, manufacturers have diversified and now produce thousands of different varieties to meet any desire.

In addition, because Washi tape is so strong it is great for everyday practical use too. It can be used for ties, labels and frames and, because it is so durable, can even go through the wash. This means you can decorate cutlery, glassware and your cups and mugs without worrying about clogging up the sink.

In fact, your imagination really is the limit when it comes to using Washi tape and, once you’ve started, there’s a very real chance you’ll begin covering your life with the stuff. It’s bright, quirky and extremely fun and can add life to even the most boring of cases, worktops or household items.

For scrap-bookers, Washi tape may well change your entire life. No longer are you restricted to dull and dreary tapes to affix your photo holders! Washi tape can and will brighten up your books and enhance all your lovely photos. It can easily be cut into more intricate or delicate strips or purchased in varying widths.

In case you weren’t convinced, Washi tape is also very easy to remove and does not leave marks or residue behind. That means you can experiment and cover whatever you like with the stuff, safe in the knowledge that you are not doing any lasting damage to your belongings!

The kids will love Washi tape too as its perfect for decorating school books, bags and stationary. Planners, calendars and homework diaries needn’t look so dreary anymore!

Another thing you’ll love about Washi tape is the price as rolls start from less than a pound. Even intricate designs, such as those with writing or pictures on them are usually less than £2 a roll making Washi as affordable as it is fun.