29 August 2012

The story of Washi

Whilst there are HEAPS of lovely tapes available from many different brands these days, the original that got me hooked a few years back when I bought my first rolls from the now defunct Borders Books was made in Japan by Kamoi, and branded 'mt' which stands for masking tape. 
You may note that some of your tapes have 'mt' printed inside the cardboard tube and some don't - you might also note that your mt tapes feel different to others. That's because they are still made in the traditional way using rice paper, as opposed to synthetic or plasticised tapes that are also on the market. 
Just to make it clear - I'm not biased - I love them all! But Kamoi was the original producer, and has been manufacturing adhesive masking tapes for over 80 years. 
The company started out in the 20's making fly paper and grew to producing tapes for industrial use. Here's what my favourite stationery store Notemaker has to say about mt tape:
"A few years ago, three women; a gallery owner, an artist and a graphic designer, made a trip to the Kamoi production factory. While the tapes were primarily being manufactured for industrial use, the women had become enthused by using the small range of coloured rice-paper tapes decoratively.

To demonstrate, they presented the company with 'Little Press' – a small book of collages and patterns made using the tapes. Following their visit, the women became inspired by the traditional processes involved in the production of the tapes.

They presented a second book to the company, featuring the work of 17 artists, who had designed patterns and prints of masking tapes they wished to have.

Following an exhibition in Tokyo and in their home city, Kamoi realised the ladies ideas, launching the masking tape (mt) label with a wealth of single colour and patterned tapes focussed on “sweetness and functionality”.

Beautifully packaged, thoughtfully produced, the mt range elevates adhesive tape from everyday stationery to a unique, surprisingly versatile, art, craft and design object."

So, how about that? From fly paper to the latest scrapbooking must-have. 

They are certainly addictive... but at least they are also getting cheaper because there is a lot more of them about; I'm pretty sure I've paid up to $7 a roll when I first found them a few years ago! I have about 40 rolls at last count so I am going to slow down for a while now. Maybe.... :)

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