Stuck On You: Happytape’s Washi Tap

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Tina Rice‘s Happytape! offers Japanese washi tape at prices you wouldn’t normally fork out for it, but thanks to the girlfriend I am increasingly more drawn to sticky strips of paper which should really be more functional than being so darn pretty.

I’d no idea what washi tape is, but some cursory searches on washi brought me this:

The strength of a piece of paper is often equated with its thickness. But in any paper strength comes from the length and quality of the fibre used in its making. In North America, fibre comes largely from trees. But in the manufacturing process to make pulp, the fibre is cut up into short lengths.

In washi, fibre comes from three plants whose inner bark produces naturally longer fibres than trees, and which is laboriously extracted by hand to maintain its length. The three plants are kozo, mitsumata and gampi..

..The degree of dedication, patience and physical energy that goes into making washi perhaps accounts for why it is only made in Japan.

The branches of the kozo, gampi or mitsumata bushes are trimmed, soaked, and the bark removed by hand. Then, the tough pliant inner bark is separated, cleaned, pounded and stretched. The addition of the pounded fibre to a liquid solution, combined with tororo-aoi (fermented hibicus root) produces a paste-like substance when it is mixed. The paste is tossed until evenly spread on a bamboo mesh screen (called a su) to form each sheet of paper. The sheets are piled up wet, and later laid out to dry on wood in the sun or indoors on a heated dryer.

People wonder at the prices some would be willing to pay for such tape, but hey, why carry designer bags when you could get a sensible one at a fraction of the price? ;) I’m surprised at myself, gawking at all this tape, but I guess I’m a bit of a paradox, seeing how I’m a dude and I love stationery, unapologetically so!

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