Prevent Electrical Tape Designs from Peeling Back?
August 16, 2012 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever heard of people using duct tape and electrical tape to create art? I've been doing it since middle school, but lately, my designs are suffering from the tape refusing to hold its place, and it eventually will wrinkle, shift, and completely come undone. Need help thinking of a solution to prevent it from happening.

It all started when I put a strip of duct tape across the length of spine of a folder that was about to fall apart. That naturally led to me lining the edges of the folders with duct tape, essentially making the folder indestructible. What I ended up doing next was putting simple designs on the front. I started with "X"'s, but later moved to zig zags. When I started using electrical tape, I realized i could curve it, and the more complicated designs began.

Besides taping up folders, I also made these foam board masks that I will some day use for DJing. ;) Right now I just use them for music festivals. I also made a planner that holds my pens, pencils, calculator, and a planner. These last two things are suffering from the problem the most. Pictures:

Planner 1
Planner 2
Planner Pealing
Planner Shifting
Three of the Masks
My Blue One
Pink one peeling horribly.
Green one shifting

You can see in the last two, I tried using packing tape to prevent the tape from doing this, but it really doesn't help. It still peals back after a while.

As I was writing this, an idea to use heat popped up in my head. Would that help relax the rubber of the electrical tape from peeling?

So, do you have any ideas on what I can do to make the tape stay in place and not peal?? This is getting really irritating to watch my work literally fall apart.

Thank you!! :D
posted by NotSoSiniSter to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You definitely don't want to use heat. It will make the stickum on the electrical tape oozy and awful, and will make the stickum on all the other kinds of tape to dry up, and then EVERYTHING will peel. And flake. Oh god, duct tape flake is so gross. It's inanimate-object dandruff.

I wonder if you could seal these things down with a coat of poly. It might be worth making some test swatches and trying out different kinds of sealant on them to see what works best.
posted by phunniemee at 12:41 PM on August 16, 2012

Duct tape varies in quality, depending on the brand and where it is made.
I bought some in the dollar store recently, and it won't stick to anything.
Electrical tape can be even worse for this problem.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

i agree about trying different sealers - maybe also try using spray adhesives under the tape to create a stronger initial hold.
posted by nadawi at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Your designs suggest to me that you should be cutting out broader areas from adhesive sheets instead of building up small areas with tape. Check out an art store or even an automotive store for plastic sheets that will stick. People must want stuff like this for car decals, flame jobs, etc.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:54 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

It looks like the problem is that electrical tape doesn't stick to the duct tape. In my experience, electrical tape isn't that good at sticking to slick plasticky surfaces. For example right now I'm using electrical tape to hold the bar tape on my bike handlebars in place. It works OK, but it shifts and eventually starts to peel off.

Can you create the design before you actually build it, and then execute the design so that the electrical tape can stick to something with a little more tooth, like the paper or cardboard backing? You should be able to cut shapes in the duct tape with an exacto knife.

Or can you use a different type of tape? Must it be electrical tape? Gaff could work well, either in lieu of either the duct tape background or the electrical tape top design.
posted by Sara C. at 12:55 PM on August 16, 2012

From what I can tell, all the parts that are failing are white. And on first glance that white doesn't even look like traditional duct tape.

Maybe try a different brand of white tape?
posted by royalsong at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2012

Response by poster: Eek I might want to state that in all the pictures, the electrical tape is either black or white. Anything colored is duct tape. I like the idea of using a sealer. I think I'll run out and try that today. :D
posted by NotSoSiniSter at 1:08 PM on August 16, 2012

Your problem here is definitely the electrical tape. I've often found that white electrical tape is not nearly as stickey as black electrical tape which is not nearly as stickey as duct tape. I bet if you stick to duct tape entirely you will not have this problem.
posted by magnetsphere at 1:15 PM on August 16, 2012

You may not want to go this far, but I'd skip using electrical tape at all. Instead, cut the shapes you need out of the duct tape: basically, make a sheet of duct tape by overlapping strips slightly to cover a piece of parchment paper (for cooking). Then it'll be paper-backed and easy to cut. And duct tape sticks to duct tape much better than electrical tape does.
posted by chowflap at 2:28 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I highly recommend giving Gaffer's tape a try. It's a bit more expensive than duct tape...but it's the "bees knees" by comparison for eveything I've done with it.
posted by samsara at 2:41 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you really need white, how about surgical tape instead of electrical tape?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:05 PM on August 16, 2012

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