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Washi tape: What it is and why everyone's pinning crafts for it

Washi tape mania: We break it down for you

In the immortal words of Derek Zoolander, washi tape is so hot right now. You've probably seen it all over Pinterest and your favorite DIY crafting blogs, but that still doesn't answer the big question: What the heck is it? While it's been incorrectly referred to as wasabi tape many a time, washi tape is entirely different from the spicy paste (though both come from Japan). Washi tape is pretty easily confused for masking tape because of its look and feel, but it's way better because it's printed with beautiful patterns, as you'll see below.

Typically, washi tape is made from natural fibers, such as bamboo or hemp, but most commonly from the bark of trees that are native to Japan — the mulberry, the mitsumata shrub or the gampi tree. Most washi tapes are strong (as strong as duct tape, in some cases!) and functional, as well as pretty, making them wonderful for both everyday and decorative use. Plus, its varying widths allow you to create some fun and intricate washi tape designs.

More: 15 easy ways washi tape can transform your DIY projects

I need some now! Tell me where to get it!

Washi tape mania: We break it down for you
Image: Wishy Washi Tape

Since washi tape has blown up in the past couple of years, it seems like every craft manufacturer and Etsy store is incorporating their designs into a washi tape line. The cost of a roll of washi will vary depending on its quality and design, but in general, a roll of washi will run you around $5. Wishy Washi Tape carries dozens of varieties of washi tape, including packs of solid colors ($35), which are a good way to get your washi collection started.

Washi tape mania: We break it down for you
Image: StickerStop/Etsy

Naturally, washi tape has hit Etsy as well, and as you can imagine, some Etsy sellers are taking washi tape pretty seriously. This Mini Tower of Washi Tape ($7) from Etsy seller [StickerStop] is another fun way to get your washi collection started. The tower comes with three rolls of tape, in a pink and blue Damask print along with a roll of the tiny heart.

Washi tape mania: We break it down for you
Image: Cute Tape

Cute Tape is another online retailer who sells hundreds of washi tape options. These Days of the Week Washi Tape ($4 per roll) are popular for scrapbooking projects or even making a DIY calendar for your home! And at under $5 each, you can easily pick up all three colors without breaking the bank.

More: Washi tape hack: The simple way to make boring pencils trendy and chic

What can I do with it?

OK, so you have your washi tape in hand... but now, what are you supposed to do with it? For the craft challenged, we suggest you go to Pinterest and never look back. Enter "Washi Tape" into the search bar and you will be blown away at all the projects people have used washi tape for.

To get you started, here are some of our favorite ideas:

Wrap a gift in simple wrapping paper — white or brown kraft paper works great — then go to town using washi tape in the same way you would use ribbon. Don't be afraid to mix and match different tapes, widths and designs!

Let washi tape help keep you organized — put it to work in on your calendar or day planner in the same way you'd use a highlighter! Many washi tapes are quite transparent, so you can use a little tag of tape to draw attention to important dates. Try putting down a piece of washi, then using a permanent pen to write on top of it. Your calendar is going to look gorgeous!

More: DIY decorative light switch and outlet covers

If you're a scrapbooker, washi tape is going to be your new obsession, and we hardly have to tell you how you can put it to work when making books to hold memories. Most washi tapes are acid-free, making them scrapbook safe!

Originally published May 2012. Updated Oct. 2016.

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