What is Washi Tape and Who Invented It?

Washi Tape – A bullet journal, scrapbooking and crafting favourite!

Masking tape is a very useful but utterly beige piece of stationery. For decades, artists and illustrators have used it for ‘masking’ out areas of a drawing or painting. It’s easy to peel off and has largely remained on the shelves of DIY and hardware stores.

That changed in 2006.

Kamoi Kakoshi is one of those old Japanese companies. In the early years, they manufactured the adhesives used in pest control. By the 2000s, their mainstay had moved from adhesives which hang on to things to death, to adhesives which make tape easy to peel off. They manufactured a strong range of industrial masking tape in bright colours mostly used for quick marking and signage in construction. 

In 2006, they received an unusual message from three women who were crafters. Claiming to be big fans of the company’s colorful tape, they wanted to visit the factory. Not accustomed to receiving such requests, it slipped through the cracks. The next time the company heard from the women, they received a package with a scrapbook, richly decorated with their translucent colour-paper masking tape.

The trio were immediately invited for a visit. The three scrapbookers wandered through the factory talking to staff about the many ways they’d been using the masking tape. By the end of that visit, Kamoi Kakoshi was imagining a new product line. With the input of the women, in 2007 the company launched a range of decorative masking tape under a new premium brand: MT.

MT Washi Tape – Image: https://in.pinterest.com/mt_masking_tape/

Colourful paper tape by MT took Japan by storm and it was soon in every art and novelty store. As it spread to western markets, what is still simply called Masking Tape in Japan, came to be known as Washi Tape – Washi being a tradition form of fine art paper made in Japan. Though the tape doesn’t often use washi paper, the name has stuck in the rest of the world and there are now several manufacturers. Today, searching for “washi tape” on Pinterest produces tens of thousands of results and hundreds of accounts dedicated to washi tape craft ideas.

MT Washi Tape Art – Image: https://in.pinterest.com/mt_masking_tape/

And that, dear readers, is how once bland masking tape took over the scrapbooking and crafting world. What is your favourite way to use tape? We’d love to know.

Short Video Link – https://www.instagram.com/reel/CjacqEDPald/

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