How To Make Duct Tape Wallets, Sculptures, And More From A Master Of The Medium

Frighteningly simple.

by Gabriel Bell
Originally Published: 
DIY Duct Tape Spider

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It’s a proven fact that there’s nothing duct tape can’t do. Oh, you used it to fix the bumper on your K-car? That cute. The astronauts of Apollo 13 literally saved their asses with the stuff. But, beyond its use as a repair-all, duct tape is also an artist’s medium as versatile as paint or paper mache. Winnipeg native Todd Scott is a professional duct tape artist — a job title that usually shows up on a resume below “Tilt-A-Whirl Operator.” But in Scott’s case, he was good enough to make a career of it. Over the course of nearly 20 years, Scott has crafted everything from a “leather” jacket for The Fonz to 4,750-square-foot, 1,120-roll American flag (US … eh?). “I view it as a practical joke that’s gone really, really far,” says Scott of his avocation.

Here’s his advice on how to use the tape you already have in your garage for something more fun than fixing the water heater.

You Have Everything You Need

With the exception of a rainbow of colors (Scott says his former sponsor Duck Tape has “the biggest array”) you already have most of what you need. In addition to tape, you’ll also want a large plastic cutting board you’ll never use for food again, and a utility or X-Acto knife. Keep the knives away from the kids — instead let them trace designs in pen. For 2-dimensional, canvas-based works and next-level 3D sculptures (such as the design below) you’ll want to save a few Amazon Prime boxes for the cardboard.

Start With 2 Dimensions

Your toddler already has a solid understanding of cutting and pasting. Start them out on a collage. Cut out shapes and designs using poster board or cardboard. That’s going to serve as your duct tape canvas and won’t be too taxing for the 4-and-unders. You can also wrap “found objects” (like the cat) in colorful tape and decorate the with Sharpies — or maybe something less permanent.

The Fabric Of Your Life

If you’re looking to make some durable accessories, you need to start by making some duct tape fabric. “Once you know how to make fabric,” says Scott, “you can make anything from wallets, to clothes, to backpacks.”

  • Tear off equally long strips of tape and line them up until you have the width of your sheet.
  • Stick the first strip down on your cutting board and smooth it out.
  • Overlap it with the next strip about a quarter of an inch.
  • Smooth and repeat with the rest of the tape strips.
  • Peel the sheet off of the cutting board by carefully, slowly starting at a corner of the first strip you laid down. It should come off in one piece.
  • Flip over do the same thing on other side of the sheet.
  • Make sure you leave about a quarter inch around the edges to fold down and seal it.

Now you’ve got a sheet to use as one piece or cut into other shapes. Remember that the side that was stuck to the cutting board will be wrinkled while the other will be smoother. If you’re making belts, handbags — possibly a matching clutch — you’ll want the nice side on the outside. You can also use different tape colors for a striped effect.

What’s In Your Wallet?

Finally, a Father’s Day gift you’ll actually use (what the hell is a “golf club warmer”?). Now that you’ve made some fabric, repeat the process, making that sheet as wide as you want your wallet to be and almost twice as tall. Fold upwards so that the bottom is about a quarter inch below the top. Press and crease. Tape both sides, leaving the top open. Boom — wallet. In your face Jack Spade.

Flickr / Okto

Some designs call for complex wraps, folds, or more taping to close the sides. Scott has a simpler solution: “Staple along the edge with some room left over, fold that extra over the staples, and put on a thin strip of tape to hold it in place.” Ooh, who let fancy pants into Home Depot?

Your Halloween Decorations, Sorted

Sculpture is the next level up — but again, you’re only talking about tracing, cutting out, and joining familiar shapes and wrapping them in tape. It’s easy stuff. This Halloween, try making this spider decoration to hang outside your home. That, along with some simple webs will turn your place into a Haunted Mansion. (Or at least a Haunted Split-Level Ranch).

  • Trace your spider template. You got your legs, your abdomen, and thorax. Same as your baby.
  • Cut it out.
  • Trace it on a piece of cardboard.
  • Cut that cardboard out. (Now, go open that emergency bag of Fun Size Snickers.)
  • Join the 2 cardboard slats together so your abdomen now has some girth.
  • Voila — spider.
  • Take a strip the length of your spider to use for joining.
  • Start taping all those connection points. (More Fun Size Snickers.)
  • Flip your spider over and overlap the ends of the left and right legs on the thorax. Tape it to the belly with small strips.
  • Crumple up some newspaper into a ball and wrap it with some tape.
  • Tape down these paper balls in all four sections of the spider’s abdomen.
  • Wrap longer pieces of tape around the balls so you cover the whole spider. (Hmm, there are few Fun Size left.)
  • Get out your black (or red, or green, or Hello Kitty) duct tape and cut it into small, 4-inch strips.
  • Layer them all over that spider.
  • Cut some eyes out. Googly ones you can buy at a store work just as well as these handmade red dots.
  • Affix to your gnarly spider head with glue dots or double-sided tape. (Your bag of tiny candy bars should be empty.)
  • To continue your new obsession, there are plenty of designs available online and Scott recommends this book — written by a teenager — for kids.

Failure Is Totally An Option

Dd your kid mess up a bit of fabric or misapply a shape? Guess what? It’s tape! “If you make a mistake, you can crumple it up, you can use to it make something else, you can add another piece of paper or tape on top. It’s not like with paint.” And, unlike paint, your living room will remain intact and your kid doesn’t need to be hosed down.

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