The History and Future of Duct Tape

Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

The History and Future of Duct Tape

DuctigamiMany people have heard the stories of the orange, powdery drink Tang being developed by NASA for astronauts or Silly Putty's original use as an eraser. Less well-known is the history of duct tape.

According to Ductigami: the Art of the Tape by Joe Wilson, during World War II, the U.S. military looked for a strong mending material that soldiers could use in the field under harsh conditions. Johnson & Johnson Co. rose to the challenge and created the sticky, olive-colored "military tape." The versatile, waterproof tape was soon used for many unconventional purposes by the soldiers issued it.  

After the war ended and the housing boom began, military tape found new civilian uses.  A great number of new homes built to house returning soldiers and their young families had central air and heating systems, which required a lot of duct work. HVAC installers were looking for an easy way to connect the different pieces of duct and the new military-issue tape did the trick. The product was soon renamed "duct tape" and changed to a silver, metallic color to match its new purpose.


Tape It and Make ItLike soldiers in the 1940s, people have used duct tape for more than just its intended purpose for a long time. But recently, duct tape has gotten a boost in popularity as crafty users have begun to make more and more products out of pure duct tape. There is the ever-popular duct tape wallet as well as book covers, phone cases, bags and even pieces of clothing. Duct tape manufacturers have begun to make the tape in a variety of colors and patterns. There are even scholarship contests to make entire prom outfits of the sticky substance. As the author of Tape It & Make It claims, "duct tape is the new black."

On Thursday, Dec. 17, Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Neighborhood Library is inviting teens to come and join this trend. From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the second-floor conference room, teens will have the opportunity to learn how to make different duct tape crafts for themselves. With clear directions, plenty of tape and some helpful examples, making duct tape items for yourself or to give as holiday gifts can be easy and fun.