Handmade Conversations — Duct Tape Crafts

Posted by on May 21, 2013

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Richela Fabian Morgan


Duct tape crafts have an inherent appeal for teens and kids alike. The bright colors, the innovative material, the stickiness — what's not to love? Richela Fabian Morgan, expert crafter and author of "Tape It & Make It: 101 Duct Tape Activities," shares insider tips for working with this unique but sometimes difficult craft material. For example, ever wonder why your duct tape crafts have a buckle in them? Morgan shares how to overcome this and other common struggles with duct tape crafts as well as what draws her to this trending craft.

duct tape craft mask
What's the allure with duct tape crafts? How did you get started?

First of all, duct tape itself is just so darn pretty! There are so many colors and patterns now, and it seems to be everywhere you look: craft stores, hardware stores, big box stores, discount stores. I was at my local pharmacy picking up some shampoo and I spotted a duct tape display. All those bright colors drew me in like a moth to a lightbulb! Secondly, it's a craft that doesn't require much else except a roll of tape. You can add a lot of other materials, but you can basically make something out of just duct tape. It appeals to kids of all ages, both boys and girls. I was in Massachusetts recently and crafted with a bunch of boys in middle school that collected and traded duct tape wallets. How awesome is that?

I began duct tape crafting because of my kids. I was constantly making things with them and we were in our local hardware store shopping for supplies. We saw duct tape in primary colors and thought it would be fun to cover a ripped folder with it. My daughter's friends would also come over every week to craft with me and we started using duct tape in our projects. That was over four years ago and now all those girls are expert duct tape crafters.

How do you prevent the buckling that often happens with duct tape?

Buckling often happens when you are working with a strip that is too long. When I am teaching duct tape crafting, I tell the participants not to work with strips that are longer than 12 inches. I pass out brightly colored 12-inch rulers for a visual aid. It usually works.

Another way to prevent buckling is to keep your cutting tools lubricated so it doesn't stick to the tape. Before I start a project I rub a little baby oil on my scissors and craft knives. I also put some oil on a paper towel, place it in a small plastic bag, and keep it on my work table. When I feel like my tools are starting to stick, I re-lubricate it with that paper towel. And after I'm done, I'll remove any bits of tape from my tools and oil them again before putting them away.
duct tape craft wallet
What are some other common mistakes when working with duct tape? Any ways to overcome?

A common mistake is not getting enough tape for a project. Read the yardage on the rolls. A standard 2-inch wide roll comes in 10, 15, and 20 yards. (Okay, it's not really 2 inches wide, but 1.88 inches wide.) Here's something to remember: A 10-yard roll will yield about two 12-inch square double-sided fabrics. That's big enough for a 3 or 4 bi-folded wallets, 2 place mats, or a medium size tote bag.

Another common mistake is making your duct tape fabric too thick. When layering the strips of tape, make sure they only overlap by 1/4 inch. If they overlap by more than 1/4 inch, the fabric will become dense and heavy. This makes folding very difficult.

Beyond wallets and roses, what are some other trends you're seeing with duct tape crafts?

I personally love making duct tape bags of all shapes and sizes. I've seen belts, hats and other accessories. But I really think that duct tape crafts will become big in home decor. During many of my duct tape crafting events, I've had the pleasure of talking to homemakers that have used duct tape to make shelf liners and table runners. One ingenious lady used duct tape to line her half walls above the wainscoting. There are beautiful prints and patterns that lend themselves to these decorative uses, and I've made frames for cork boards, mirrors and pictures that really blend well with the color schemes in my living room and dining room. So let the duct tape crafting of the home begin!

Image credits (from top): All images via Richela Fabian Morgan

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Richela Fabian Morgan is the author of "Tape It & Make It: 101 Duct Tape Activities," published by Barron's Educational Series

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