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Monday, November 24, 2014

Duck Tape Art

A new art form emerging bursting upon the scene.                                         
Vase of Duct Tape Roses
by Duck Tape Bandit Amanda
It's always exciting to be on hand to observe an emerging art form. Just in my lifetime (don't ask how long) I've seen the explosive Abstract Expressionism with its total freedom of pigmented expression. I've seen the fruition of color photography as an art form. Picasso may have invented collage about the time my father was born but it wasn't until my own lifetime that it emerged as a popular means of expression. Add to those video art, digital photography and creative imaging, virtual reality, and probably some more that don't immediately come to mind. Of course such newness usually come from the young, "outside-the-box" creative types. The most recent example of the emergence of a new art form came to my notice from my granddaughter--Duck Tape. She and her mother created and entire fashion ensemble of the stuff for her to wear at some kind of school function. She was about twelve at the time. More recently, she's been manufacturing Duck Tape accessories--wallets, "jewelry," iPhone covers, (and those are just the ones that stick in my mind).
Duck Tape--just think outside the box and add color.
Notice the difference in duct
tape and DUCK Tape (above)?
I think I should stop here and clear up the difference between two similar terms--Duck Tape and duct tape. Uhh...there is none. The only difference is mostly in the history of the stuff. And despite what you might guess, DUCK tape is actually the older of the two. It refers to tape made from a light, canvas-like material long called cotton duck. The stuff has been around since the days of sailing ships, though in its rubber-based-adhesive-backed form, only since the early 1900s. Duct tape, on the other hand, came out of WW II when it was developed by the Revolite division of Johnson & Johnson in sealing crates of ammunition to keep out moisture. Powdered aluminum pigment gives traditional duct tape its silvery gray color. It's now made by 3M. The modern day name came from its use in also sealing heating and cooling ductwork. Basically duct tape replaced the generic duck tape.
Leonardo the Lion Fish--paper-mâché and Duck Tape sculpture,
Tape art, coming soon to an
art gallery near you.
That is, until about 1975, when a guy named Jack Kahl rebranded the duct tape made by his company. Because the previously used generic term "duck tape" had fallen out of use, he was able to trademark the brand "Duck Tape" and market his product complete with a yellow cartoon duck logo. In 1979, the Duck Tape marketing plan involved sending out greeting cards with the duck branding, four times a year, to 32,000 hardware managers. This mass communication combined with colorful, convenient packaging, helped Duck Tape become popular. Starting from near-zero, Dahl's Manco Company has now come to controlled as much as 40% of the duct tape market in the U.S. mostly by changing its color and with the addition of simple print and design elements. Last Christmas, we sent our granddaughter a whole carton of the stuff. (No, I don't own stock in the company.)

Even in traditional gray, Duct or Duck, this sticky stuff in the right hands can be impressive as well as expressive.
Coordinating prom fashion ensembles
of Duck Tape.
Is Duck Tape the wave of the future? Already museums are taking notice of this largely 21st-century art phenomena (above, right). The same seems to be true of interior designers who use the relatively inexpensive material to cover entire walls to accent their rooms (above). Teenaged fashion designers love Duck Tape for its virtually unlimited creative possibilities. Teenaged girls, who couldn't (or wouldn't) sew a stitch can now create and wear their own designs for less than fifty dollars. Unfortunately, in the case of the less gentle sex, they can also do the same for their prom dates (left). I wonder how uncomfortable such outfits are. Even portrait artists are embracing this new medium as a certain Crafty Soccer Mom named Nicole demonstrates in her tribute to Lucille Ball (below, right).

Lucille Ball, Crafty Soccer Mom
However, in something of a class by himself, a Dutch artist in Amsterdam named Max Zorn creates portraits and other figural art using a tape medium similar to Duck Tape in many ways, only different. He uses tan, semi-transparent packaging tape mounted on Plexiglas then cut away with a scalpel. His works are lit from behind much like a stained glass window without the glass...without the color...without all the work. Light areas are cut away entirely, with darker areas utilizing a varying number of successive layers of tape. His brooding smoker (below) displays the results. The video just below that show's how it's done.

The work of tape artist Max Zorn, Amsterdam, packaging tape on clear Plexiglas.
Check out the video below for details.


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