Everything You Need to Know About Duct Tape Crafts

everything you need to know about duct tape crafts

I’ve talked before about my love for pre-bundled craft supplies and passive programs with my blog post about Maker Kits. Today I’m going to talk a bit more in-depth about duct tape crafts.

Duct Tape Maker Kit SuppliesMaterials:

  • Scissors (safety scissors with rounded edges are okay but safety scissors will not be strong enough to cut the tape–tape can be torn but younger kids will not have the hand strength)
  • Rulers
  • Duct Tape
  • Index cards (other cardstock or heavy paper works too)
  • Laminated Instruction Sheets
  • Demo Items

The Duct Tape Maker Kit is stocked with a variety of duct tape, scissors, and rulers. The reason the kits can be self-directed are the laminated instruction sheets.

After looking around online I found project instructions from Duct Tape and Instructables. I adapted the instructions to fit my needs, reformatted them, and then printed them out. I used my library’s laminator to laminate each sheet. Because I wanted laminated sheets, I kept instructions to one sheet of paper (one or two sided) for easy printing and laminating. I round out the kit with demonstration items I made myself while testing the projects.

Projects:

The fun thing about working with duct tape is that the kids and teens really get to run with it. I give minimal instruction on basic techniques. The rest is up to the patrons attending the program and depends on how much effort they want to invest. I always appreciate a program where participants can put in as little or as much effort as they choose. Because the crafts range from very quick (index card bookmark) to more complex (duct tape wallet), I do recommend having a variety of materials and tape patterns to encourage experimentation. If you plan to offer the program for all ages you might also want to have coloring sheets or some other alternative for anyone who loses interest in duct tape crafting before the program wraps.

Tips:

  • Did you know that a lot of duct tape crafts involve wrapping duct tape around other objects? I have done programs decorating notebooks and boxes with duct tape in addition to the crafts mentioned above.
  • While duct tape can be a pricier craft supply, I’ve found several bundled rolls for a really reasonable price point online. The main obstacle is that kids need a lot of strength to roll out the duct tape and without supervision it can get tangled. I would recommend buying the name brand if you order online or shopping in a store where you can feel the weight of the tape. Bazic brand is cheap but it’s very flimsy.
  • You can also use washi tape if your craft is strictly decorative. You’ll need actual duct tape if you want the strength to build out an item like a wallet.
  • Scissors will need to be cleaned often as sticky residue builds up. I put aside some of the best scissors–ie the strongest ones–just for duct tape and periodically task volunteers with cleaning them with alcohol wipes.

Once you buy the initial supplies and prepare materials, the duct tape programs can really run themselves. And unlike a lot of programs, you might even have time to craft while supervising.

everything you need to know about duct tape crafts

A version of this post originally appeared at Teen Services Underground in 2016.

Papertoy Glowbots: A (Crafty) Review

Papertoy Glowbots (with bots!)Papertoy Glowbots by Brian Castleforte (and 14 Papertoy Designers from around the world)

Papertoy Glowbots is part book and part craft activity. This second creation from Castleforte (following Papertoy Monsters) features 46 paper robots readers can make themselves. I have made some bots myself as gifts and desk decorations at work and also trotted this book out for teen programs at the library where I work to great success.

The book starts with pictures of the bots on the interior endpapers before getting to a table of contents before an introduction to the book and some basic instructions for making each robot. You will need glue. I tried glue stick and white glue. Although the glue stick takes longer to adhere and involves holding more pieces in place for longer, it works better.

Then we get to the main event in the book: robots! Each robot is introduced with a large full color photo, a small description, a difficulty rating, and assembly instructions. (This page also lists the designer who “discovered” the bot and directs readers to the template for the robot found in the back of the book.)

Here’s the spread for one of my favorite bots, Traxx:

Traxx spread with botHere’s an example of the templates for some other bots because I already made Traxx (you can see they are two-sided and perforated for each piece):

bots templatesEach robot template tears out of the book completely so you can flip to the instructions and have them ready while you work with the template. Regardless of difficulty rating (which usually relates more to number of pieces than increased assembly challenges) I have found that the robots take about an hour to build because of drying time needed to get certain pieces to adhere. Once each robot is built it’s ready to be displayed as is. OR if you are not afraid of the dark (like I am) you can add included glow in the dark stickers to make your robot glow at night.

After field testing the bots myself, I decided to target the bots to teens. This decision was partly because I’m trying to revamp craft programs for teens at my library and partly because I wouldn’t be able to work with them each closely for an entire program and they were less likely to lose small pieces during assembly or have accidental tears, etc. For home use or one-on-one building I do think Papertoy Glowbots is perfect for younger kids and tweens.

The bots were a huge hit! My coworkers have been intrigued by my new desk decorations (and requested access to the book to make some of their own). Teens were drawn in the minute I said we’d be making paper robots. I jerry-rigged the book to make it more consumable for multiple users by copying instruction pages as needed. Even without closely following directions, the bots were easy to assemble and teens left with immense pride for their new paper creations.

If you can’t tell yet. I really love Papertoy Glowbots. As soon as I heard about the book from Estelle (publicist extraordinaire for this title), I immediately volunteered to take part in the #papertoyglowbots promotion for Papertoy Glowbots Day on October 1 and to use it in my programs at the library. Papertoy Glowbots is a great creativity and imagination booster. Highly recommended for robot enthusiasts, paper toy aficionados, and anyone looking make a new friend or two!

Paper Snowflakes Program in the Library

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Kids hard at work contemplating their snowflake designs.

When I started as a library intern in high school, one of my first jobs was cutting out paper snowflakes for a display. I love cutting snowflakes and had a lot of fun making them. The display was very well-received and while there was a lot of time involved, it was low cost.

As I try to regenerate interest in teen programs, I’ve realized that I prefer to lead low-effort/high-impact craft programs. Basically: I like programs where participants can put in as little or as much effort as they like and still leave with some kind of finished project.

My library has a monthly Ezra Jack Keats program which includes a story by Ezra Jack Keats and can also feature other stories, rhymes, songs, or fingerplays. After the reading, everyone makes a related craft. Although it was summer, I decided to do cut paper snowflakes along with a reading of The Snowy Day.

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Coloring snowflakes with crayons.

Before the program I gave teen volunteers a snowflake-making tutorial and then asked them to cut some demo ones. I grabbed a ream of white typing paper and a ream of blue typing paper and lots of scissors. I also used a box of crayons so that more adept participants could draw designs to cut. The crayons also allowed the younger kids to color and decorate pre-made snowflakes.

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A finished masterpiece. Cut and colored by one of the kids at the program.

Because this craft is so simple, I was able to let teen volunteers do a group reading of The Snowy Day. I then talked a bit about if kids did the same things in winter as we see in the book and we figured out some facts about snowflakes. Then I explained the craft and gave quick instructions before everyone got started.

During the program I discovered it’s really best to have a lot of actual scissors (child size) but NOT the safety-scissors with almost no blade–they are impossible to use for cutting through the multiple layers of folded paper to make a snowflake.

I also spent a lot of time going around to ask kids how they were doing and tell me about their snowflakes. If I noticed anyone who was frustrated with cutting, I was able to quickly make a snowflake for them to use as reference or to color.

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Snowflake, mid-coloring.

The biggest downside to this program was that there was a lot of paper scraps by the end but cleanup wasn’t terrible with help from volunteers. (We couldn’t find a broom so I did have to ask a custodian to sweep up the last bits.) I would not recommend doing this program in a carpeted room unless you have a vacuum handy.

Related Books:

  • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
  • It’s Snowing by Olivier Dunrea
  • When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
  • It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Snow by Uri Shulevitz