Make Your Own Gel Printed Washi Tape with Gelli Arts® by Robyn McClendon

Washi tape is popular among artists and crafters all kinds. An almost never-ending selection of printed images on Japanese translucent wash paper. Fine artists or for those of us who are trying to use only or mainly our own work in our art, need to find ways to re-create some of our favorite supplies using our own images.

  • First prepare your papers, thinking about what patterns and images, what colors and size, and what kind of paper would make good wash tape. The score tape is available in several sizes from 1/4 inch thin strips to one-inch and even two-inch rolls. I usually work with half inch to 3/4 inch widths, because for me those sizes are large enough to be noticeable in my work worth the effort of creating my own designs. Do you prefer large patterns or small? What patterns will translate well to a long thin strip in your designs? Experiment of course, as you will certainly be surprised which patterns you find useful. 
  • You can use various kinds of paper, excluding very thin tissue paper. The paper needs to have enough structural integrity to hold up to the adhesive, storage, and use later when the paper backing is peeled off. I’ve use deli paper, vellum, cartridge paper and nicer bond papers. One paper that work particularly well, is Japanese semi ink paper, usually used for practicing sumi characters and brushwork. It is delicate with an interesting texture, much like the original wash paper, but strong enough to hold up to both gel printing and use as tape. 
  • Bring your selected papers together into a stack. Then TURN THE ENTIRE STACK UPSIDE DOWN. You will be applying the sticky score tape to the BACKSIDE of your prints. It is very east to get lost in looking at the cool patterns you’ve come up with and imagining the great wash designs — and start putting the tape strips on the printed side. Of course this way you end up with blank washi tape, having covered up the printed designs you created.

For this reason, examine your papers in the first step, then turn the entire stack over and work only with the back sides of your prints and patterns. 

Unroll your score tape, and lay the stick side onto the blank side of the papers in neat rows. It is important to lay each strip out straight; once you start you have to keep each strip straight. Don’t worry if they end up at somewhat of an angle — the finished strips will work well if even if not perfect. Let the tape itself determine the angle of how you lay it down. As long as the tape is straight and not wrinkled, the results will be good. 

Repeat the process, laying out the strips in neat rows. You’ll find it is best to keep the strips very close together so that you later don’t have as much trimming to do. After you’ve prepared  a few sheets of paper, it is time to cut out the strips and see what you’ve made!

Put the papers on a cutting surface— cardboard or using a healable ruled mat. With the back side of the paper still upwards,  now covered with the strips of score tape, sticky side down, peel-able side up. At this point you can cut the strips out with scissors or you can r and a cutting blade. I prefer to lay the ruler down next to each strip, and cut the strips slice-by-slice.

It is a good idea to cut as close as possible to the strip as you cut them out. When you use the washi tape later, any extra bits alongside of the strip won’t adhere and will be noticeable on your work. It is easier to cut accurately near the tape to start with, than to cut them away or tear off later.

You now have a fabulous strip of washi tape patterned with your own designs! Use it by removing the backing strip to reveal the adhesive strip.   


  • Score-tape (a double-sided sticky tape that comes off the roll with one sticky side ready to stick down and one sticky side covered with a paper backing)
  • Prepared art papers form your Gelli Arts® gel prints or other materials such as newspaper or scripting
  • Scissors and/or a cutting tool 
  • Storage zip bag or clear plastic binder pages
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    7 thoughts on “Make Your Own Gel Printed Washi Tape with Gelli Arts® by Robyn McClendon”

    1. The best way to make washi tape I’ve ever read! What brand and/or type of tape would I use? Thank you!

    2. Claudia Cooper

      I love using gelli prints for washi tape! I sometimes store tapes I’ve made on wooden spools.

    3. Diana Illingworth-Cook

      Great way to make tape. Love it! However I’m on a mission to stop the use of the term ‘Washi Tape’ as a generic term for hand made sticky tapes. Washi paper is a Japanese paper made from the fibres of either kōzo (mulberry), mitsumata or ganpi plants. It is strong paper and very suitable for mixed media work as it takes water very well. If you use genuine Washi paper with this process then by all means call it Washi Tape. Otherwise it is very misleading.

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