Washi watch: The tape of things to come

[Alyson Kuhn] I’m a big fan of washi tape. And I have recently come to appreciate how much artier some people I know — and people they know — are being with their washi. Behold these binder clips made by Pamela Gerard for a few of her lucky friends, including Gina Visione, who Gerard inspired to make washi-seamed envelopes.

Gina Visione (her mail-art handle) let me select this “test” envelope, which I adore all the more because the flap reminds me of a florist’s awning. I’ve gotten it semi-ready to send, but am not certain I can give it up just yet.

Visione and Gerard are both members of the Correspondence Co-op started in San Francisco by Jennie Hinchliff in 2011. Visione toted her incredible tape dispenser to a meeting, where it was greeted by a chorus of oohs and aahs. OMGina!

Have tape, can travel: Visione’s multi-roll tape dispenser was a gift from her “father-out-law,” a generous DIY guy.

The ultimate filing system for Visione’s library of washi is made from scraps and repurposed materials from her father-out-law’s workshop, including used (and therefore dulled) hacksaw blades for tearing off the tape.

Visione made this card, bordered it with zebra-striped washi, and mailed it in an envelope made from the “matching” page in The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Dogs (2004), found in a free box at her neighborhood independent bookseller.

Visione made the Zooper card “in a fit of hilarity for my oldest and best friend. She has a yellow lab named Cooper, who is harder to see when he is on similarly-colored surfaces.” And how did her friend respond to the zebratized Cooper mailing? I quote: “She howled.”

Clips ready to be deployed … or gifted. Gerard has cleverly mailed some to Visione to coincide with this post!

Clips at work

Gerard covers the front and back of standard notebooks with decorative papers, then gets to washi-work. Thanks to the tape’s translucence, the effect is very layery.

Gerard, who earned her BFA at the San Francisco Art Institute, took all of the photos of her work shown here. She shares her visual impressions on her mail art blog, Cappuccino and Art Journal. (Last week’s post was an ode to typewriters, with one prop that made me Politely Gasp [hint]. Next up, she’ll be writing about some of her washi projects.)

Gerard’s notebook cover collage includes typewriter keyboard washi.

Gerard uses washi every which way on her address books.

Gerard’s datebooks now have their own wardrobes of washi-covered binder clips.

Rachel Hazell — about whose bookmaking workshop in the Napa Valley we reported here and here — mailed me a roll of her read-make-love-books tape as a Valentine present. She is so dextrous, that she managed to inscribe  the core: “February 14th 2012. Dear Alyson — Here’s some special tape to aid the securing of parcels. NB: It is very sticky + a limited edition.”

Rachel Hazell, a.k.a. The Travelling Bookbinder, created an impromptu mailing label bordered in washi. Her branded tape is already coming in handy.

My envelope destined for Rachel Hazell in Edinburgh. The Eames Crosspatch Fabric Design stamps have always reminded me of an x-o-x.

I wish to expand my washi-ness, and don’t mind being derivative. Above, you see my first envelope constructed with washi: ambitious onion skin. The notecard will fully fill the envelope and, I hope, optimize its safe transit. And below, you see my graph-grid washi on graph-grid wrap. And my favorite tapes that I own.

Cutting the graph-grid on the bias to make a tidy X; typing between the tapes to make my first washi specimen card

Any piece of mail from Tag Team Tompkins is a multi-splendored treat. My limited-edition valentine tag (below) featured spray painting over one of Diane’s paper cuts on the front and a greeting in Madeline’s distinctive calligraphy on the back. Diane says, “I decided to use the pin tape when I readied the valentines for sending, as a finishing touch.”

Valentine from Tag Team Tompkins, complete with trompe l’oeil washi

Not a one-trick roll! Diane Tompkins bought this washi at Loft, a big lifestyle store in Fukuoka, Japan.

Graphic designer Shasta Garcia suspected — or maybe she intuited — that certain colors of washi tape would be see-through enough for letterpress printing underneath to be legible and touchy-touchy. She says, “I don’t remember the exact moment I thought of it, but I just knew I wanted a card that would be simple and could hint at what my blog is about in a tactile way.”

Garcia wrote a guest post for Felt & Wire about her craft projects using washi … and that inspired her to open a Felt & Wire shop: Shastablasta Wraps Presents Well. Since we are mad  for plaid … we hope she’ll add more products. Last Christmas, Garcia made washi twist ties for closing some of her gifts. She credits Randi at Swoon Studio for the inspiration; Randi in turn acknowledges Jessica at Zakka Life with the idea and the how-to.

Holding one of Shasta’s cards is a pleasure. Seeing a stack of them is a little revelation.

Lest you think artful taping is just the province of crafters and mailers: I was recently shopping in Anthropologie and noticed their tape for the first time. Just a tab’ll do ya — though I of course would have liked a long strip.

Anthropologie’s tape looks as if it’s been typed with a well-used ribbon.

And Kate Spade New York commissioned an entire storeful of tape, in the form of an installation from artist Rebecca Ward. We’re just playin’: the tape of things to come!

Things We Love, a book we loved from Kate Spade New York, features an actual piece of tape in homage to Rebecca Ward’s tape installations.

At Felt & Wire Supply, you’ll find washi for your every whim. Two shopkeepers, Gift Wrap So Pretty and Top Hat, present nicely-edited selections.

Photos 2, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19: © 2012 StudioAlex

Gina Visione makes this offer: If you would like an envelope with your favorite dog (Sorry, Labrador Retriever, Pug, and Boston Terrier have been sent already), and/or you would like to share MailArt, please send an email to [email protected] with your request, name and postal address.  She hopes to see you in the mail soon!

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Comments (13)

  1. Posted by Mary E on 03.12.12 at 4:25 pm

    Fun!! I saw Pamela mention this post on her blog so I came over to check it out. Lovely!

  2. Posted by Diane Tompkins on 03.12.12 at 6:11 pm

    Wonderful washi tales, Alyson! So many creative takes on this great material.

  3. Posted by PamelaArts on 03.12.12 at 6:43 pm

    Wonderful job, Alyson! Loved seeing what the others are making too.

  4. Posted by Happy Day Mail on 03.12.12 at 10:31 pm

    Eye Candy to the max!!! Great post, Alyson. Delighted Pamela sent me over :>

  5. Posted by GinaVisione on 03.12.12 at 11:04 pm

    Oh this is Fabulous, Ms. Kuhtributor! Thank you, and Felt & Wire very much!

  6. Posted by Kelly Pocci on 03.13.12 at 1:11 pm

    I would never have thought to pick up a copy of Felt & Wire for the type of projects I do. After seeing this fabulous article, I will not hesitate to do so in the future. Keep up the good and inspiring work!

  7. Posted by iamrushmore on 03.13.12 at 3:47 pm

    fantastic post full of inspiring pictures! I’m among the ranks of the tape obsessed.

  8. Posted by Mary Austin on 03.14.12 at 5:23 pm

    Wonderful post! I think I could have some real fun with red tape now! thank you

  9. Posted by Sally Wassink on 03.15.12 at 12:23 am

    Love this post! The photos are stunning and the work so creative. Thanks!

  10. Posted by Kseniya on 03.16.12 at 10:32 am

    So many beautiful patterns–this sent me and my assistant to the Internets to see what further rolls we could add to the shop’s collection! Thanks Alyson!

  11. Posted by wishywashi.com on 03.17.12 at 10:45 am

    omg we are completely in love with that washi tape dispenser!!! That is quite amazing!

  12. Posted by Karla on 03.25.12 at 2:55 pm

    OMg, love this post. LOVE the read-make-love-books tape … where PLEASE? can I get this?

  13. Posted by Desiree Hesse on 08.16.12 at 12:51 pm

    I wouldlove one of the Washi tape dispensers or even a pattern on how to make it …

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