washi tape food picks

20 02 2010

way back when i first started bentoing, i took note of the extremely cute leaf-like and gingham flag picks used by gifted bentoist akinoichigo-san… they always looked so homey and bright and sometimes even vintage, really adding a special touch to her already-absurdly-amazing bento creations.  (by the way, i don’t read japanese, but i think akinoichigo-san recently posted about a book she has coming out… you better believe that will be going straight in my amazon.jp cart!!)

anyway, i think i assumed she was buying these picks from some super-secret, cool-japanese-ladies only bento supply store, or something… but then i started seeing american craft and design blogs going crazy over washi tape.  washi tape is a pretty fabulous product — it’s made of japanese paper that comes in tons of beautiful patterns and colors, and the “sticky” side is actually not too sticky, so that it will adhere to a surface but can also be easily removed (without ripping your paper or leaving tacky residue behind).  a hot trend in crafting now is using washi tape to edge bookshelves, to decorate big wooden letters for kids’ rooms, and to spice up collages.  if you want to take a look at some good suppliers, i recommend the etsy store pretty tape, as well as the online craft store tinted mint.

another use for washi tape, as it turns out, is for making fun food picks for bento!  it’s really easy to do:

  1. buy some plain old, grocery store wooden toothpicks.  rip approx. 2″-long sections of washi tape off rolls of your choosing.
  2. in the center of each section, place the end of a toothpick on the sticky side of the tape.  neatly stick both sides of the tape together (i find it easiest to work from the toothpick outwards to the end of the tape, and i use my fingernail to “seal” the tape closest to the barrel of the pick).
  3. using small scissors (i like these manicure scissors i grabbed at an H-mart a few months ago), cut the end of the tape “flag” in a design of your choosing (i have demonstrated a “pinking shears”-type effect, a traditional pennant, and a leaf shape).
  4. voila, you’re done!  stick ’em in something small and pop ’em in a bento!

UPDATE:  maki, of the always-informative-and-interesting websites just bento and just hungry, recently posted a comment noting that washi tape is not meant to be used on or around food (it may contain chemicals and artificial, non-edible dyes), and recommending that bentoists be careful not to allow the tape part of these home-made picks to touch the food when the bento box is closed (or when the contents get shaken up in a backpack or purse).  adults can probably manage this when including in their bento lunches, but to be safe, i would probably not use this kind of pick in a child’s lunch, as a child might be more likely to put the actual pick in his/her mouth!



46 responses

20 02 2010

That is SO cool! And thanks for the links, because I haven’t been able to find washi tape in Holland… I recently looked for some glittery tape as well to pimp a present, but was told it is only on sale at X-Mas time… Dôh. It seems crafts products are subject to hypes as well :\

20 02 2010

hey gnoe, glad you like the post! definitely check etsy, i think pretty tape might ship internationally, but there are other sellers on etsy who definitely do as well. good luck getting some, and i can’t wait to see how you put it to use!

22 05 2015

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20 02 2010

Oh, thanks for a cool and informative tutorial! I never thought about making my own flags, but it’s definitely on my list now! Just what I need – more bento gear 🙂

20 02 2010

haha, i’m a total #bentoaddict #enabler !! 😉

20 02 2010
Susan Yuen

That is so awesome and I can’t wait to try it out! I am on my way to the craft store now. Fantastic tutorial!!! Thanks Megan! 😀

20 02 2010

Great idea to use tape to make your own flags!

20 02 2010

Very cute! I’ll have to try this.

20 02 2010

thanks susan, debra, and wendy! all credit to akinoichigo for the great idea, and i hope you all try it and make some cool flags for me to look at in your bentos!

20 02 2010

What a fun how-to post, gamene! Love the photos of making the washi tape food picks and crafty inpiration!

20 02 2010
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[…] to learn how to make fun and colorful “flag”-style food picks at home?  Head over to bento zen for instructions! Share and […]

21 02 2010

What an absolutely clever idea. I have some colored masking tape currently (pink, yellow, green)….I may have to go make some of these now – but you can be sure I’m getting some of that fun washi tape. Thanks for sharing.

22 02 2010

hey jenn and karina, thanks for your comments! i can’t take credit for the idea, but it sure is clever, and i bet it would look great with masking tape too (plus then you could write cute little messages on the flags!) 🙂

24 02 2010
Makiko Itoh

It’s a really creative idea, and very cute! One thing I would be a bit concerned about is that washi tape, or the decorative masking tape that Ms. akinoichigo uses in her original tutorial, is that they are not meant to be used on or around food. So you want to be careful that they don’t actually touch the food when the bento box is closed, or something like that, to be on the safe side. Ms. akinoichigo addresses this by disinfecting the finished picks, but I am not sure that would be sufficient with washi tape, which may leech color when in contact with moist food. Just a thought!

24 02 2010

hey maki, thanks for stopping by 🙂

this is a really important comment — thank you so much for pointing it out, and i’m editing the post to include this information. to be safe, these home-made picks should probably not be used for kids’ lunches, since kids might be more likely to put the picks in their mouths! (crazy kids)

25 02 2010

Hey cool! Thanks for sharing the idea! I never thought about that! 🙂

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12 07 2011

What a lovely idea! I’ve seen the washi tape flags used to decorate cupcakes and other sweets, but never thought of them used in bentos. Clever!

Though, yes, I would think you’d want to avoid direct food contact if closed up in a bento. Also, perhaps as a substitute for cocktail picks at a party?

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Such a cute idea! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays 😀 Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

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