The Etsy Blog

How-Tuesday: Washi Tape Mural

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Decorating your walls can be intimidating: Maybe you’re renting, maybe you don’t have the time, or maybe you just don’t want to commit to permanent home decor. Either way, help is here! In this week’s How-Tuesday post, Dutch artist (and self-proclaimed “washi tape scrooge”) Nina van de Goor of Ninainvorm offers advice on creating a mural using removable, decorative washi tape. These temporary murals provide a pop of color that lasts as long as your whims.

Sometimes you have to take a risk or two in life. As I’m quite a thrill-seeker between the four walls of my home (a trait that I’ve inherited from my late grandma, who ruled the world from her big easy chair), I decided to take a big one: I would free myself from the perils of washi tape Scroogedom — it’s so tempting to keep admiring those lovely tapes on their rolls forever! — and make a tape mural on the empty white wall in my daughter Rosa’s room.

Here’s a little tutorial on how to make a mural using only removable washi masking tape.

  • A variety of washi tapes
  • A blank wall
  • Scissors
  • Pencil and paper for designing
  • Cutting knife (optional)

Directions:

Make a design. It may be wise to first draw a design on a small scale on paper, or maybe with very thin pencil lines on your wall. If you choose the latter, be careful: washi tape is transparent, so you may see the drawing underneath. Also, since the tape is removable, you can remove it easily from your wall when you don’t like the mural anymore, but this may be a lot harder with pencil lines. Of course, you can also do what I did: just get started without a plan, with lots of complaining, swearing and ripping misplaced tape from the wall until you finally get somewhere. I started with the big house image in the middle and then worked from there towards the sides.

Choose a style that works with the tape. Lucky for me, I happen to have a naive, childish and folkloric design style, but if you have a super baroque and detailed or extremely subtle design style, it is wise to realize that washi tapes have their limitations. It is hard to cut really detailed shapes from sticky pieces of tape (if you really want to cut something difficult, you can stick the tape to a piece of paper or a cutting mat first, cut it in the right shape, and then remove the paper again. Be careful — this may lessen the sticky strength of the tape, and you do need the tape to be sticky enough if you want the mural to last on your wall for some time).

Also, most tapes have great length but aren’t very wide, so if you want to create wide (solid) images, you have to assemble them from various pieces of tape, which gets complicated. Curly lines and shapes are possible, but require more precise cutting and pasting. Optimally, it’s best to use the characteristics of the tape, and work with straight lines and simple shapes.

Be ready to make a mess. Or maybe that’s just me… After some fanatical cutting and pasting, little sticky pieces of tape were literally everywhere: on the floor, under my shoes, in my hair, and even on my sweet baby’s neck. (I often worked on the mural in her room, sitting next to the bed where she was napping, and when she’d wake up, I had to take her out of bed with those sticky fingers!)

Finishing up. Once the mural is to your liking, rub the pieces of tape with your fingers so that they won’t come off the wall that easily (though with a bit of scratching you should still be able to remove the tape at any time).

Voila! Here’s your washi tape mural! I hope I’ve inspired some of you to use some of your washi tape in a creative splurge.

All photographs by Ninainvorm.

If you make your own washi tape mural, share a photo with us in the Etsy Labs Flickr group.

More Things to Make | Washi Tape on Etsy