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What is Washi Tape?

Since I've started my collection of Washi Tape, I have noticed a lot more other decorative tape out there in the market. So people have asked: what is washi tape?

Japanese Washi Tape

The answer would be that washi (和紙) is Japanese (和) paper (紙). So they are basically Japanese paper tape, but with a special quality to it. They are slightly transparent, especially for the lighter colors. They work well for layering effects and are great for papercraft, gift wrapping / packaging, Journals, casual scrapbooking, card making, planners, art journaling, and wedding/birthday decor. They should be residue free. You can tear them by hand, since they are made of thin paper.

Is washi tape removable?

Yes, they should be as being removable and repositionable is one of their features, but of course I would not recommend it on things like thin tissue paper if you need it to be removable (although I have done it slowly with wrapping tissue paper). It is always recommended that you remove it in slow motion and not to yank at it since it will depend on what surface you put it on. On surfaces such as glass or metal, you can probably yank it as much as you like!

Difference and quality:

If you look up on wikipedia, it says "Washi (和紙?) is a type of paper made in Japan." and "Washi comes from wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper, and the term is used to describe paper made by hand in the traditional manner." Although with technology, this may not be the case. So this brings me to the reason for the post. I think some people think that any kind of paper tape or tissue tape, or some even selling fabric tape as washi tape. However, they all have different feel to them. 

The washi tape under Japanese washi tape section are all from Japan. They are in my opinion higher quality. The original brand that started it all was MT, from Kamoi. The manufacturer also works with larger companies and manufactures for some other highly selected brands such as Marks. They are very selective about who they work with, so those that can get them to manufacture for them are the lucky ones. There are also a couple of new manufacturers for Japanese brands and their quality have been consistent as well.

Since it became popular, there are also ones made in China. Various brands from the US and all over the world may be manufactured in China. The quality of these will depend since there are different manufacturers and likely different quality control.

Different Quality:
From the past few years of handling washi tape, I can say that the Japanese kind were always consistent. Their quality were high and stickiness and colors were always the same. I love handling them and they don't disappoint. With the Chinese kind, I did have issues with inconsistent stickiness. Some where too sticky where there's actually residue already on the tape (if I notice this, I do not list them). Others were almost not sticky at all or very low stickiness where if I used it to package something, it falls apart pretty quickly. The colors from the Chinese kind can vary from batch to batch. I do wish that would improve. Again, it does depend on different manufacturers. I believe the ones under the American brands have better quality control and therefore better color consistency.

Writing on washi tape:
I did read a comment somewhere about writing on washi tape and that they were not able to write with a Sharpie and there's a waxy coating on the tape. True, there is a coating on the tape that does keep it semi water resistant, however, I was able to use a sharpie on it with no problem. I would just not recommend liquid type of ink pen.

Stamping on washi tape:
Since there is that protective coating, not all ink will hold on washi tape. I have read that Stazon ink pad is one that worked well, although I have not tried personally. Since Stazon also can work on surfaces like glassine, I would think that would be the case with washi tape as well.

Compare Tape

Tissue Tape, Fabric Tape, Paper Tape: 
What's the difference?
Fabric tape is obvious. It is made of fabric and will obviously have a very different feel from thin paper. Even with this big difference, there are still some calling fabric tape washi tape. I believe it is just because it's decorated. I think that's incorrect and they should be called fabric tape or decorative tape. 
Tissue tape can be pretty similar to washi tape and may be just a brand preference from Tim Holtz. Although I have not actually compared side by side.
Paper Tape - Some US brands now have some paper tape that do feel like washi. Other US brands have their tape labelled as paper tape and they actually can be thicker paper and therefore not really the same feel as washi tape. 7 Gypsies paper tape is for sure different in feel. It feels a bit hard and is almost like a decoupaged feel. Bella Blvd, SMASH came out with paper tape and the patterns are pretty, the feel is a bit thicker and does not feel exactly like washi. SMASH brand's tape have lower stickiness. October afternoon brand tape are like washi and the quality and consistency seem good so far.
Trendy tape is another terms used by a US brand and those do feel like washi. 
Wasabi tape is another term used by few customers. This basically is just a misspelling of washi, because wasabi is the green Japanese horseradish paste you get at the Japanese restaurant when eating sushi. So I don't think they use that to make tape...yet! lol

Also..make sure to keep washi tape way from dogs. I've had more than a few customers coming back looking for the same pattern they had already purchased because their "dog ate it"!

Length of Tape:
Don't be surprised to get different length of tape. Different manufacturers/brands may make them in different lengths. MT brand was 10m in length but transitioning to 7m as standard length in 2022. Other Japanese brands can be 5m, 7m, 12m or 15m. Please do look at the description of each product page for the length as well as width. The Chinese kind usually come in 10m and a few are even 8m. The core however can make it look like a huge roll - for instances, on the Sweden designed but manufactured in China kind. They are still 10m in length even though they may look larger. So don't go by how they look as a roll, but what their actual length should be. Also even if two rolls from two manufacturers might be the same length, their overall circumference can vary due to paper, ink, and how tightly they are wound. Washi tape rolls are supposed to be small overall size (again please go by actual length and not “they look small”). That’s what makes them cute, easier to store, and take with you on the go in pencil case/pouch.

What is washi tape used for?

Washi Tape can be used for a lot of things. It is very versatile. Here is just a starter list:

Tealight Candles - They fit perfectly around flat tealight candles, the ones in plastic, glass, or metal. This makes it great to decorate for events such as weddings.

Clothespins - They also work great on wooden clothespins and easy to cut around the edges if needed. You can then label them and use them as chip bag clips or use them to string on a twine to clip photos for your room or for an event.

Keyboards - there's been a lot of people using it on each letter on the keyboard. You can do that also, however do note that there's a chance it may come off from the edges with lots of wear and tear! (if you scrape on the edges a lot)

Pencils - The 15mm width washi tape will fit perfectly around a standard sized pencil such as 2B pencils. It can add a nice touch of color or wrap the whole thing for a whole new look!

Block Letters - They are great for decorating block letters for your office or your kid's room.

Scrapbooks, Journals, Planners - Yes, these are obvious, but you can use them to tape on photos, frame photos, use them as headers and write headings on them. Tape it across a whole week for an event or vacation time. You can also use it as borders around the page or create tabs on the edges.

Packaging - No brainer here! This is what I use it most for! You can tape it on a plain kraft bag and just a little piece can add so much! You can also wrap it around a package, then add twine to make it even more dazzling!

Photo Wall - Simple, just get a piece and tape it to the wall. (just make sure to test your wall first as some old chipping painted walls likely would not be recommended!). Japanese kind would be recommended as their stickiness is more consistent.

Wall Decor - People have used say black or white to make geometric shapes on walls or even a whole unique pattern. Again, same as the photo wall, best to test an area of your wall first). Japanese kind would be recommended as their stickiness is more consistent.

Light Switch Plate - Turn a plain light switch plate into a colorful piece of decorative plate for your room. 

Bottles - Glass or metal bottles are easy to decorate with washi tape. Just wrap it around and it create a whole new look. This usage is great for wedding banquet or other events and you can match the colors to the floral arrangement. Of course, an old can can be easily made to be a pretty pen or pencil holder with it wrapped around. The only challenge might be making the the ends meet, but it's really not that hard. Plus it is removable, so you can try and try and try again if it doesn't match up the first time!

Wedding Guestbook - A simple way to put photos in your wedding guestbook. Just have guests take a polaroid picture and tape it to a page and have them write a little note for you. With this use, I do recommend the Japanese kind for longevity.

Tiny Flag Garlands - Wrap it around a string/twine and tape it together, then cut it into triangle shape or flag pennant shape and you have tiny party garlands.

Greeting Cards - Simple way to add colors, borders, or shapes to greeting cards.

Labelling - washi tape is great for labelling. Place a strip on a bin and label it with a permanent pen. Label boxes for storage. Label spice bottles in your pantry! 

These are just a few uses, there are countless more uses.

Start your next creative project with some cute washi tape

Shop now - which would you prefer? Japanese - high quality or  buy Chinese low cost ?