Duct tape has always been a handy item to have around, but it's gone through a number of incarnations over time. Valued for its strength, durability and good "sticking" properties, varieties of this backed, reinforced tape are used in the building industry, in auto racing and even in the space program. Duct tape may have even helped save the Apollo 13 astronauts when it was used to fashion a retrofit Rube Goldberg device to cleanse the air in the lunar module.
Newer incarnations of this classic tape are available in dazzling colors and bold patterns. Decorative duct tape has become a favorite tool for scrapbooking and other crafting applications. Don't limit your creative horizons to paper, fabric and metal. Give duct tape a try. It's easy and inexpensive to use. It's kid friendly, too.
On the next pages, let's look at five fun ways duct tape can be more than a handy adhesive.
Colorful duct tape makes a great cover-up, border or contact paper option. Once you start thinking of it as a décor material instead of a utility item, you'll probably come up with lots of your own ideas for ways to use it. Here are a few to get you started:
- Cover an old wooden headboard.
- Resurface a bookshelf.
- Wrap individual window blind slats (use a different color on each slat for a rainbow effect).
- Add it to a picture frame, or use it to frame a mirror.
- Decorate the baseboards in a child's room.
Turning your tween loose with a roll of duct tape doesn't have to be a recipe for disaster. Because colored and patterned duct tape products have a glossy finish, they can look surprisingly professional. Bows make easy and fun first projects. They can be used as jewelry (ring bows), hair ornaments and shoe embellishments. Your tween can even fashion a homemade bowtie for dad. Here's how to add a simple bow to a bobby pin for a crafty and stylish hair ornament.
- For this project, you'll need a 2-inch roll of colored or patterned duct tape, a bobby pin and a pair of scissors.
- Cut an 8-inch length of duct tape, and fold the ends toward the middle of the sticky side and press. The idea is to cover the sticky underside of the tape completely by folding it in on itself. When you're finished, you'll have the colored (or patterned) surface on both sides of a 4-inch length of tape. The back side will have a seam running down the middle.
- Cut an additional piece of tape about 2 inches by one inch. Fold it sticky sides together, leaving an eighth of an inch of the sticky end showing. This will be the cinched center section of the bow. The narrow sticky edge will hold the bow together.
- Holding the 4-inch piece of duct tape with the seam side down, pinch it in the center crosswise to create a bow shape. Tug the ends down slightly. If you have trouble creating a tidy indentation, try folding the bow accordion style to get it to bend easily.
- Wrap the short piece of tape around the center of the bow, sticky side facing the bow, and slip the straight side of the bobby pin under the loop. Press the center firmly to make sure the adhesive makes good contact all the way around.
Duct tape can be surprisingly sturdy in items like placemats when you start thinking of it as a water resistant, no-sew fabric. The idea of making, say, a skirt out of duct tape, may seem a little challenging, but using duct tape "fabric" for simple projects is fun, fast and easy.
- Use a tape measure or yardstick to unroll tape strips to the length you need.
- Place the strips on a flat surface, sticky side up, overlapping them by about a half-inch.
- When you've overlapped strips to the desired width of fabric, place a second layer of tape strips over the first, sticky sides together.
- You'll end up with a panel of double thick tape with the adhesive sides together and the colored sides facing out.
- Tidy the edges with scissors, a rotary cutter or a craft knife.
Now you have a piece of strong fabric you can use to make fun projects like skirts, decals, headbands and maybe even a prom dress or two if you're ambitious. You can cut duct tape fabric into narrow, even strips and use it to weave baskets, rugs and wall hangings, too. Cover raw edges by wrapping a half strip of tape around any exposed edge of your project for a more finished look.
Bags and Carryalls
Duct tape is super sturdy, so it's a great construction material for objects like handbags, wallets and computer or phone cases. There are lots of bag and wallet tutorials around. Here's a carryall project that's a useful as it is fun. It uses wrapped strips in a crazy quilt pattern.
- For this bag, you'll need a roll of duct tape, a balloon and a pair of scissors.
- Inflate a large balloon, but not completely. Three-quarters full is about right. Too full, and the balloon may pop prematurely.
- The balloon will be the form on which you'll begin to layer strips of tape for the bag. Short strips of 3 inches or less are best or the curve of the balloon will keep the lengths of tape from lying flat. You can use one tape color or mix it up for a multi-colored, confetti look.
- Cover all but the top few inches of the balloon with two or three layers of tape. You can arrange the tape so it all goes roughly in the same direction, or get wild with it.
- Once the bag is completely covered, puncture the balloon with a pin or the tip of your scissors.
- Cut an even opening the size you want around the top. You'll end up with a curved carryall that has a duct tape exterior and a balloon lining.
- To finish the project, cut four 16-inch strips of duct tape and place two of them sticky sides together. This will be the bag's handle.
- Cut the third piece in half lengthwise and wrap each of the two exposed edges of the handle with them.
- Attach the ends of the handle to either side of the bag's interior about an inch below the rim. Secure them in place with the remaining length of tape.
All-purpose Household Aid
With so much designer duct tape around, it's easy to forget that this strong, sticky tape was very handy long before it became a crafting essential. Let's explore a few ways a trusty roll of plain silver duct tape can be an invaluable item for your household tool box:
- Use it to seal tears in your vacuum cleaner hose. It can also seal a pinhole in a garden hose (for a while at least).
- Use a strip to seal a trash bag closed in wet weather. The glue will stick even in the rain, and your garbage won't end up a soggy mess.
- Because it's so tacky and moisture resistant, use duct tape to affix a key to the underside of your deck (for easy access when you lock yourself out of your home), or to the undercarriage of your automobile.
- It's great for holding old books and magazines together.
- Use thin strips of duct tape to hang outdoor holiday lights. They'll be easier to install and remove.
- You can temporarily repair your car's water hose with it, so keep a roll of duct tape in the trunk of your car for emergencies.
- Seal small gaps at the edges of window screens with it or to cover small holes in a window or door screen.
- Hold cracked window glass together with duct tape until you can replace the window.
- Apply it to the cuffs of jeans to keep them from fraying in the wash.
- Use it as a temporary patch for a lost roof shingle.
- Cover a crack or hole in your vinyl siding with it.
- Use it to hold down a carpet patch or keep an area rug from shifting on a tile or vinyl floor.
- Use it as a makeshift pool liner patch. If the rip or hole is small, it will hold pretty well for a few weeks.
- Corral multiple electrical cords with it.
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