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Manage a bevy of sticky situations with the help of gaffer tape, a low-residue, pressure-sensitive tape that’s used in everything from the theater to the automotive industry. Not to be confused with duct tape, gaffer tape is made with a heat-resistant adhesive that won’t leave residue when removed. This tape is said to have been developed in 1959 by director and cinematographer Ross Lowell and is named for the chief lighting technician on a film crew, the gaffer. While originally intended for utilitarian uses—artists, for instance, can use it to tape down watercolor paper—gaffer tape is a great unconventional fine art material. For example, contemporary pop artist Donald Robertson famously uses it to create striped canvas compositions and tape-bodied figures. If you want to explore the uses of gaffer tape in your own art or crafting, browse our selection of the best options below.
1. XFasten Professional Grade Gaffer Tape
Available in five colors, this gaffer tape is easy to use and reliably strong. Made of cotton, it tears cleanly and easily without the use of scissors, and the 2-inch width provides sufficient coverage if you need to hold paper or other material down. (It’s also easy to rip down the middle should your projects require thinner strips.) Totally opaque and manufactured with smooth edges, this is an excellent tape for those seeking to lay down crisp lines. It adheres very well to most surfaces, even ones that curve, but you can still peel it off with little resistance to make fine adjustments.
2. Gaffer Power Spike Tape
Ideal for jobs that require precise, small adhesive strips, this pack features five rolls of ½-inch-wide tape in neon-bright shades. Artists will love them for their residue-free stick and vibrancy; you can use this tape for everything from laying down borders on dry-erase boards to creating colorful compositions on canvas or paper. With a high-thread-count cotton cloth backing, the tape is easy to rip by hand and highly conformable to irregular surfaces. This high-quality product is made in the United States and is temperature and weather resistant.
3. AOND Gaffers Tape
This multicolor 10-pack of gaffer tape is a great and fun choice for the classroom. It’s easy for young ones to tear to size, and each roll has an attractive, vibrant finish that glows in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet light. Shades include pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue, so there’s an option for every student and task. Each roll is just over half an inch in width and includes 16.4 feet of tape. Made of a blend of cotton and polyester, the fabric isn’t as high-quality as pricier tapes, but it will serve you well for casual crafts and other projects.
4. Koltose Black Gaffers Tape
A more industrial-strength option than the products above, this gaffer tape does well for more demanding projects. It’s available in larger widths (up to 5 inches) and sticks tenaciously from end to end; it won’t come undone even if laid over three-dimensional objects. Though this tape is hardcore, the workable adhesive backing makes for mess-free removal; as long as you peel it off slowly, you can even lift it from the most delicate painted surfaces without fear of damage.
5. Pro Tapes Pro-Gaff Tape
Available in six sizes and a dozen unique and attractive colors—from electric blue to olive drab—Pro Tapes’ product is an excellent pick if you need a diverse palette. The tapes not only offer excellent holding power but also look good: The vinyl-coated cloth presents a clean surface that is totally matte and has a subtle and uniform grainy texture. Strips stay put—virtually forever—but are easy to remove with no residue if necessary.