Tape Talk


The following reflection is by Kate VanHaren.

March 5, 2013

There are simple things in life that seem to interest everyone no matter culture, beliefs or age.  Duct tape is one of those special items.  Nobody ever seems to have anything bad to say about it. In fact, most people have their own anecdote about how it prevented damage to a tool, saved a project, or even stopped blisters on feet during a long backpacking trip. The wonders of duct tape are once again being witnessed in the afterschool program.  Some of the kids are falling victim to the winter lull and sometimes it is difficult to motivate them to participate in projects.  Belinda suggested starting duct tape crafts again and the adventure began.

I don’t know if you have bought duct tape recently, but the company has progressed far beyond the silver rolls that are difficult to find inside a hardware store. In a sign that duct tape has progressed with the changing times, you can now buy Sponge Bob, zebra print, and camouflage rolls.   There are now whole aisles dedicated to it.

As the kids were making their duct tape wallets, bags, and pencil flowers, the always inevitable duct tape discussions occurred. Duck tape is actually a brand name not the actual name. This let into another enlightening conversation about the difference between Kleenex and face towels.    The woman at the hardware store mentioned a video about how an Alaskan pilot salvaged his bear ravaged seaplane with duct tape. Most of the kids had also seen this video and were equally impressed. My favorite moment of the week was watching two girls make a “dress” out of duct tape, plastic bags and construction paper. If anyone would have asked them to partake in this activity, they would have rolled their eyes at the ridiculousness.   Duct tape on the other hand has a magical ability to make people do fun and silly things.

There is a huge amount of disconnect between generations in this world.  Kids in My Future told me its difficult talking to their parents because they have nothing in common.   I experienced this first hand. Music and TV shows that were popular when I was in high school ten years ago are now considered “retro.” It’s a small relief to know that some things like fascination with duct tape remain the same. I hope some of the kids will go home and say things like “Mom, you are not going to believe what I made out of duct tape today” and the discussion continue. Starting a conversation between kids and older adults is often the most difficult part of talking.    Conversation may seem like a small step, but it’s an important one in relationship building. I don’t think duct tape has the power to solve the problems of conversation or the world, but then you never know…it seems to fix everything else.
© David B. Bell 2013


  1. I’ll throw my Duct tape story in the mix too! As a member of the Las Vegas Sewing Guild I attended a Duct Tape Double workshop. We wrapped each other from the neck down to hips, cut it off down the front and back middle. These were used as guides to adjust clothing patterns to our curves, it really worked!


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