Duct tape as home decor sticks with DIYers

When Sandy Finley needed gifts for colleagues recently, a store-bought picture frame simply wouldn't do. Instead, she whipped up a little something in pink and black, using a product originally made to keep ammunition cases dry during World War II.

"I used patterned duct tape that went with their personalities," says the 45-year-old special-needs high school teacher. And when a ripped swivel stool cried out for a new life, the Harford County resident knew what to do: add turquoise with purple squares and white sunbursts.

"I needed a stool, so I covered it with duct tape," she says. "And now it's just the best stool ever."

Duct tape, meet home decor.

In fact, the Maryland Home & Garden Show is bringing in Tim Berg and Jim Nyberg, the Duct Tape Guys, for their October show Oct. 19-21 in Timonium. The Wisconsin-based comedy duo has authored seven books on the subject and even makes a page-a-day calendar of things to do with the sticky stuff.

For example, spare yourself the agony of a dying smoke-detector battery's midnight chirps. Instead, they suggest, try duct taping pans of Jiffy Pop popcorn to the ceiling.

"If you wake up in the middle of the night with popcorn popping, you know it's time to get out of the house," Nyberg quips.

Social networking sites are awash with ideas. Pinterest user Myquillyn Smith of Charlotte, N.C., even showed how she made duct tape into a harlequin pattern on her bedroom wall. Tape makers now offer hundreds of colors and patterns, including Spider-Man, Union Jacka, glow-in-the-dark and NFL team logos. It even comes in easy-peel 8-by-10-inch sheets.

Project ideas include frames, window treatments and art, but decorating with duct tape seems like an idea whose adherents remain money-strapped college students, do-it-yourselfers and the elementary-school set. Interior design professionals have not yet seen the light.

Duct tape decor sounds like a "DIY-on-the-cheap kind of activity," says Laura C. Kimball, a certified interior designer and head of LCK Interiors in Baltimore County. "Kitschy."

Duct tape decor hit an early milestone in December 2008 when Ty Pennington and his team at ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" used it. They covered Michigan teenager Derik DeVries' room with the stuff, from curtains and desk chair to bedspread and headboard.

Here in Maryland, fifth-grader Hailey Dax adorns her Rodgers Forge bedroom with cut tape flowers, which she explains in 30 seconds how to make. The 10-year-old no longer hits up her father to buy rolls at $5 a pop because she has sold more than 70 duct-tape flower pens at $4 each.

She even covered an old pillow with duct tape once.

"It was actually very comfortable to sleep with," says Hailey

Amanda Pasenow, in-house artist for Duck Tape, made by Shurtech Brands of Avon, Ohio, is familiar with duct tape on pillows and as upholstery.

""It's easy to wipe the drool off," she says.

Pasenow has covered old furniture and made wreaths from duct tape, and now she's gearing up for fall by making placemats and napkin rings. She even uses duct tape sheets with her children to make jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween.

"If you want big eyelashes, you just cut out big eyelashes with whatever-colored tape," she says.

Decorating with duct tape is about more than sprucing up your space, says Duck Tape spokeswoman Patti Sack. "Duct tape is a medium to express yourself," she says.

Nine-year-old Emily Spohr of Smyrna, Del., uses every penny she gets to buy duct tape to cover tissue boxes and picture frames in her favorite colors of lime green, hot pink, and cheetah or zebra prints. The fourth-grader is saving up to buy some gold metallic tape because she doubts the Tooth Fairy will leave any under her pillow.

Says Emily, "She probably doesn't know which kind of prints I like."

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