I’ve got an Instagram just like everybody else (or a least like a lot of people). I’ve been posting on there for years and years but not many people follow me. I’ve got 759 followers but only about 20 people push the like button on any given post. Not a very big reach but I still like to post there. 20 people is actually more interaction than I get on any other social media platform. It’s not easy being a nobody:).

I wrote a few months ago about the dice color compositions that I post on Instagram (Dice Color Compositions) so I figured this week I’ll write about the videos that I often post there. I call them my tape peeling videos.

I have no idea when I first taped the edges of a drawing. I wasn’t the first one to do it and I won’t be the last. An artist tapes the edges of a drawing to keep them clean. That way you don’t have to worry about stopping your hand, and therefor the paint or ink, at the edge of the drawing. You put tape around the outside edge of the drawing or painting, make the art, then peel the tape off and any over-paint goes away with it. It keeps a piece neat. Not every artist cares about clean edges but plenty do.

Sometimes taping the edges is essential. If I’m making an ink drawing and I want a group of lines to run off the side of the page it is much easier to draw right over the edge than it is to stop the brush right at the edge. I don’t want the energy of the line to stop at the edge. I want it to go over the edge. That’s easier to accomplish with tape in place.

I can remember back in the 1990s I first taped the occasional edge using drafting tape. That tape is like masking tape except it has less glue. Low tack tape it’s called. That way you can pull the tape up without the tape being so strong that it pulls up the top layer of the paper with it. We all know what that’s like. Tape can be a beast.

I haven’t used drafting tape in a long time. Sometime in the late 1990s-early 2000s they came out with something called “Artist’s Tape.” Where drafting tape was the same color yellow/off white as masking tape artist’s tape is stark white. It also has less glue to it so as not to tear the paper but it’s still not as low tack as the stuff I use to mask my edges now. I use artist’s tape all the time when I need to tape a piece of paper to my desk but for masking edges I prefer removable tape.

Removable tape is just like the Scotch tape we’ve seen and used all our lives except it’s really low tack. It’s meant to be easily removed. I first used it regularly in the 1990s when making my photo collages. Before the digital age I used to cut up physical photos and arrange them into a big photo. After I cut some photos, and then before I put them in place permanently, I’d use removable tape to keep them in place. When I finished the photo composition I’d pick the photos up, pull off the removable tape, and them paste them down with mounting adhesive. It was essential that the tape came off easily and left no residue behind. Real tape would wreck the photos.

These days one of the sizes that I work at all the time is 6×9 inches. I buy 9×12 inch Bristol paper and cut it in half giving me two pieces at 6×9 inches. I do a lot of drawings at that size. It’s often my “First step” size on the way to bigger 11×17 drawings. At the 6×9 inch size I also make a lot of ink drawings. I look through one of my Inkbooks (sketchbooks) for thumbnail drawings that catch my eye, blow them up to 6×9 inches, and print them out in blue line. That way I can use ink right over the blue line. After I’m done I scan the ink drawings in bitmap mode and the blue lines drop right out.

It’s been a few years I’m not exactly sure when but at some point I decided to start taping the edges of these ink drawings. I don’t tape the edges of all my drawings, or even all my 6×9 inch drawings, but for these ink ones I decided to. It was just easier to draw them with ink when I didn’t have to think about the edges. After the drawing was finished I’d pull the tape off and have nice clean edges.

Once again I’m not sure when it happened but, one day, I decided to make a video of me pulling the tape off a drawing. It’s a satisfying feeling. I’ve done the work, the drawing is finished, and now I can do this one more easy step to clean up the edges of the drawing and make it look neat. What was once messy becomes clean in an instant. Order from chaos. You don’t get that a lot in life.

It only takes about 45-55 seconds to peel the tape. It’s under a minute so it fits on an Instagram reel with ease. I have a cardboard box that I made, for reasons long forgotten, that sits under a window and is just the right size to fit my iPad on to film a video. So the drawing goes on my drawing table, the box also on the table, and the iPad on top of the box. Then I film. It’s really easy.

It turns out other people find the tape peeling satisfying too. I have no idea how Instagram chooses to show or not show something to people but sometimes my tape peeling reels can get 100 likes and sometimes only 20. Either way it’s usually more likes than my dice color compositions on my regular feed. So I’ll continue to make them. Easy and satisfying is a good combination.