Washi tape


I love washi tape. It is a type of tape made from special Japanese paper usually made from mulberry, or other natural fibres, but not from wood pulp. Although washi tape has a delicate appearance, it is actually quite tough. Because it is paper tape, it is sort of like masking tape but usually decorative, often with printed patterns and slightly opaque. Because it is paper, it can be torn by hand and written on. I find it quite versatile and use it to decorate pages, tape down ephemera in my journal, or seal envelopes.

I bought my first roll of washi tape at a store called The Artworks. This tape is from a Japanese company called mt with a fascinating history dating back to 1923 when it began as the Kamoi Fly Catch Paper Works. It makes sense that as the market for fly paper shrunk to shift the business to making masking tape. I love the colour and elegant design.


My daughter knew about my enthusiasm for washi tape and brought me back three rolls from Japan. One has a blue chevron design and is from the Rinrei Tape company. They don’t have as interesting a website as mt, but they also began making washi tape in the 1960’s.


The other two rolls are part of a set called Islands & Waves that she got at the Benesse Art Site Naoshima. The actual wording on the package says: “Inspired by the gentle waves and the islands dotting the Seto-Inland Sea, these masking tapes. They are made of Japanese traditional handmade paper (washi), and have been used for architectural use. With your imagination please find many different uses for them; little accents for letters or cards, for wrapping or collage.” I feel something may have been lost in translation as I am not sure what the architectural use would be.

IslandsWaves1 IslandsWavesBoat

There is a big difference between true Japanese washi tape and novelty tapes. For example, I bought patterned Scotch “Expressions” masking tape from Target a few years ago. It has its uses, but is very coarse (just like the beige type) compared to washi tape.

Masking tape

I also bought a set of decorative tape with a maps and old paper theme which is really like a long sticker on a roll but it doesn’t at all have the feel of washi tape.


If washi tape was a person they would be attractive and refined but not as fragile as they look. Washi tape is a great collaborator and adaptable to many situations.

Brush Pens


I am going to give another shout-out to my big sister again this week. She lent me her brush pen for testing comparison and helped me review all of them.

Ink brushes, like the ones used in Asian calligraphy, are believed to have been around since 300 B.C. Brush pens work much the same way and can be used for the same purposes without the inconvenience of requiring liquid ink to dip the brush into. Instead, the brush tips are fed by an ink reservoir. These pens are also great for western calligraphy and sketching.

8 mine

I first tried out a brush pen last year when my daughter brought me back one from her visit to Japan. This Akashiya pen is beautiful – pretty to look at and nice to hold. I have done a little calligraphy with it but mainly have just had fun sketching. You have to get used to the feel of this type of pen since you control thick and thin lines through pressure.


Elisabet’s pen is a Pentel pocket brush pen. It has a classic plain black body so is not as attractive as mine but has the advantage of being refillable by buying ink cartridges. The ink in it also seems to load into the brush part a bit better than mine but that might be because it is newer. She purchased it locally at the Paint Spot when she took a brush style calligraphy workshop there. Both pens have nice dark ink.

16 su

Similar to these pens are brush markers. The ones I have are from a company called Stampin Up! that sells rubber stamps and paper crafting products through direct sellers in the same way that Avon or Tupperware do (and to a similar demographic), although mine were purchase from a garage sale. They have dual tips so one end has a brush and the other a fine marker tip. They are fun but are more like markers than brushes so you don’t get the same feel of a brush stroke.


Finally, I have a Pentel Color Brush that came in a box of random calligraphy supplies at a different garage sale. This one is quite old but newer versions of it are still on the market. The casing part of the pen is a soft plastic that can be squeezed. The whole casing on this brush pen is the ink cartridge and to replace it you need to buy a new one and screw it onto the brush tip.

All of the brush pens, even the markers, are from Japan and the type of line you get depends a lot on the type of paper used. Smooth paper gives a smooth line while rougher paper gives a rougher line. I personally think it works best on a smooth surface like tracing paper but there is also some appeal to the quality of the brush strokes you can create on slightly coarser paper.

Overall, I have a bias towards my own brush pen but if a trip to Japan is not in your future, the Pentel pocket brush is a great refillable pen.

If these pens were people, they would have to be Japanese with a respect for tradition but a love of modern convenience.