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How to Make Your Own Washi Tape, an Illustrated Tutorial for DIY Decorative Adhesive

I've been crafting since I could hold a paintbrush. I love to repurpose random things. Most of my articles are about arts and crafts.

DIY Washi Tape

DIY Washi Tape

Making Your Own Washi Tape

I prefer to use embellishments in my junk journaling that I’ve made myself. I don’t often buy washi tape or stickers. When I did buy rolls of washi tape and boxes of stickers, I often got bored with the patterns and colors over time. By making my own, I can make smaller amounts and have an endless array of different designs to play with when I collage and decorate junk or bullet journal pages.

I’m excited to share my method with you and hope you get as much satisfaction from making your own washi tape as I do.

You'll need wax wrap, paper tape and a color medium like shoe polish, ink or watercolor.

You'll need wax wrap, paper tape and a color medium like shoe polish, ink or watercolor.

What You'll Need

  • Paper surgical tape
  • Liquid shoe polish
  • Stamps
  • Stamping ink
  • Freezer wrap wax paper

How to Make Washi Tape With Paper Surgical Tape

  1. Tear about a 12-inch-long piece of wax paper off the roll and lay it on the counter with the waxy shiny side up.
  2. Lay the paper tape down on the wax paper and smooth your hand over it to make sure it adheres well. You don’t want any bubbles that ink or shoe polish can slip under, since that will compromise the glue on the tape.
  3. Fold the tape over to make a tab on one end. This will make it easier to pull your washi tape off the wax paper when you want to use it.
  4. Apply the liquid shoe polish to the tape and allow it to dry. I decided to use two colors on one strip for a bit of design interest.
  5. Once the polish is dry, it’s time to decorate. There are no design rules here. I used stamps and then splattered some gold, blue, and bronze watercolor paint over the stamps for this batch of tape.
Three easy steps to make washi tape.

Three easy steps to make washi tape.

Completed Examples

A variety of examples colored with shoe polish, watercolors and ink stamps.

A variety of examples colored with shoe polish, watercolors and ink stamps.

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Additional Options

  • Instead of shoe polish, you could color the tape with ink pads, watercolor paint or markers.
  • Old magazines and book pages often release their inks to the tape. Especially magazines that don’t have that shiny coating. Lay the paper surgical tape on the book page and press down lightly. When you remove the tape, some of the book page writing or image should pull off with the tape. In this instance you might lose some of the tape’s glue and may have to add some glue stick to the back when you use it in your collage projects.
  • Crayons and chalk pens work well too. So, you might want to color the tape and then use the crayons to draw geometric shapes on it.

Inspiration and Examples

As an edge of a journal page

As an edge of a journal page

As a decorative tape on a tag

As a decorative tape on a tag

As a strip across the top of a pocket to add some color.

As a strip across the top of a pocket to add some color.

Something to Remember

  • Don’t use glitter glue or anything that has glue in the mix. I tried this and couldn’t pull the tape off the wax paper because the glitter glue seeped through the tape and glued it to the wax paper.
  • Make sure you adhere your tape to the shiny waxy side of the freezer paper so that you can remove it.
  • Buy the cheapest possible paper tape that you can find. I found mine at a dollar store. It has 10 yards (9 meters) on the roll. That’s a lot of washi tape.

How to Store Washi Tape

  • Roll it up in wax paper: I usually make my washi tape on wax paper, then I roll the paper and store it like a roll of wrapping paper. I bought the 18-inch-wide roll of freezer wax paper because it didn’t restrict the length of the washi tape I wanted to make.
  • Store it on a cutting board: If you prefer, you could substitute the wax paper for a smooth plastic cutting board. It might be easier to store if you want to file it away in a draw or bookcase. The length of your washi tape is determined by the width/length of the board, though.

DIY Washi Tape Ideas

Conclusion

Scrapbooking, junk journaling and creating upcycled art has always been a lot of fun and I realize that making washi tape with tape that I bought from a store may not qualify as upcycling but I do get to use old shoe polish or the last dregs of an old set of watercolors and that is a plus for me. I don't mind saving a bit of money by making my own embellishments. That's a bonus for sure.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Celeste Wilson