Washi this: the tape of things to come


Dear Everyone ~

mt on a rope.jpeg

Robert Petrick was in the studio last weekend
and bought a few new rolls of washi tape.
On Monday, he sent me an email titled "On the Ropes",
with this photo of his "fledgling (but growing) mt collection."
I wrote back, asking whether I could share the photo,
and he replied that it would be fine to talk about
his "washi tape infatuation." He noted,
"My usage so far doesn't come close to the imagination and
variety on display in The Book of Masking Tape and MT."
Robert had been one of the first customers to buy a copy
of this extraordinary book.

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I asked Robert a few questions about the role of washi tape in his creative life.
He is a graphic designer and a highly specific communicator.
He included a handful of wonderful photos to illustrate his replies,
and he actually labeled them "figures"
—we love that touch!

What exactly are you using your washi for?

My applications fall into two basic categories: decoration and duty.
(Yes, he really bolded his two categories.)
Sometimes both at once. At the most basic level,
I love using it to label things—binders, books, file folders,
and almost anything in the kitchen that either doesn't have a label,
or would benefit from a better looking one. (fig. 1)

  figure 1:  my homemade pepper infused vodka

figure 1: my homemade pepper infused vodka

Do you use washi for wrapping?

I do use washi tape on occasion to wrap presents.
I typically wrap in plain paper: either white shelf liner,
the Sunday New York Times or old maps of midwestern states.
So the tape provides the perfect amount of visual detail necessary
to elevate the package to "gift" status.

Do you do anything "designerly" with washi?

Well, I recently used it to obscure the title marking
on a sketchbook that has been reborn to serve another purpose (fig. 2),
and to affix my identification details to the first page of my journal. (fig. 3)

  figure 2:  a repurposed sketchbook  (old label is under the blue)

figure 2: a repurposed sketchbook
(old label is under the blue)

  figure 3:  making a title page

figure 3: making a title page

My favourite use, however, is to effectively remove
from sight offensive logos that come, by default, on products.
As an example, this gesture
greatly improved the look of my desk stapler. (fig. 4)

  figure 4:  a greatly improved, logo-less stapler

figure 4: a greatly improved, logo-less stapler

* * * * *

Inspired by Robert's photos, I decided to experiment ... and discovered
how amusing it is to display rolls of washi directly on the wall.
I love being able to see all the elements of each pattern at once.
The rolls tended to unroll a bit independently as gravity had its way ...
and Emmy, my nimble shop assistant, suggested that I use a tiny piece of tape
on the wall so that the rolls don't slide downward. Aha!

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And of course a snippet of washi provides the perfect finishing touch on my shop packaging.


Sticking to my story,
Bari