Crafty by Nature

Crafty by Nature

Crafting with VHS Tapes

comments (55) February 24th, 2011     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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As a creative exercise, I spent a few days playing with VHS tapes. It turns out that, with a little stretching, they make gorgeous loomed flowers, among other things.
I love these sleek and simple bookends, which are made from VHS tapes and old CDs.
Stretched VHS tape takes well to macramé, producing a cute (and sturdy) bracelet.
As a creative exercise, I spent a few days playing with VHS tapes. It turns out that, with a little stretching, they make gorgeous loomed flowers, among other things.

As a creative exercise, I spent a few days playing with VHS tapes. It turns out that, with a little stretching, they make gorgeous loomed flowers, among other things.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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When I want to do some green crafting, the first thing I do is look around for stuff that has lost its usefulness and needs a second life. My movie collection provided the gold this time. As I acquire more of my favorites on DVD, the old VHS tapes are gathering dust. I decided to see what I could make from them.

What you'll need:

  • One or two old VHS tapes
  • One or two old CDs
  • E-6000 glue
  • Small Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Craft knife

Note: I'm using VHS tapes with card stock sleeves for the first of my projects.

Make sure all the tape is wound to one side of the cassette.

First, let's make a set of bookends. My partner and I came up with this project as a way to use another dust-gathering technology: old CDs.

To begin this project, remove the card stock sleeve from the videotape, and make sure the tape is all wound to one side of the cassette; this way, all the weight will be at the bottom of the tape, which is best for stability. Rewind or fast forward your tape as needed to get it to this configuration.

Line up the edge of the tape with the edge of the CD.

This is how you'll be gluing the VHS tape and CD together: The edge of the tape and the edge of the CD should match. The side of the tape that you glue to the CD should be free of any labels or label residue.

Place E-6000 on the CD.

Put a generous coating of E-6000 on the CD, placing it where the VHS cassette will go.

NOte that E-6000 (a one-part epoxy) may not be the "greenest" glue in the world, but it makes a strong, flexible bond, which is crucial to the success of this project.

Stabilize the bookends for drying by placing them back to back with a weight on top.

Stand the VHS tape on the CD. Remember how you wound all the tape to one side of the cassette earlier? Place the cassette so the tape is at the bottom.


The E-6000 will need several hours to cure, and you'll need to stabilize your bookends during this time so they won't move or fall over. If you make a set of two bookends at the same time, you can stand them back to back, as shown, and place a small weight on top. Leave them overnight.

The next day, slide the sleeve over the tape.

Lastly, slip the sleeve over the cassette. And you're done!

The finished bookends are fun and functional.

We keep making more sets of these bookends. They take up so little room on a shelf, have a nice, streamlined look, and are a cool way to show off our favorite films. I also love that they're a wry little commentary on how outdated new technologies can get. (Maybe one day, we'll be making iPhone bookends.)

If you also want to craft with the videotape itself, you can remove it from the cassette before you make your bookends. (They'll still work fine without the weight inside them.) Here's how to get at the tape:

Remove the screws holding the cassette together.

Most VHS tapes are held together by four or five small screws. You can easily remove these with a small Phillips-head screwdriver.

If your tape has a label, slice it down the center.

If your tape has a label along one edge, it will prevent the two halves of the cassette from separating. Cut along the center of the label with a craft knife.

Separate the halves of the cassette. Remove the tape reels.

Gently pull the cassette open and separate the halves. The tape reels will lift out. If you're making bookends, you can put the cassette back together and replace the screws.

Each video yields miles of tape to craft with. You may have seen Cindy crochets videotape into a sparkly fabric, sometimes incorporating ribbon to make pretty handbags. (She makes bags from lots of other interesting materials, too.) You can also knit with VHS tape. The resulting fabric is very sturdy.


This notebook cover is made with woven strips of VHS tape.

I also modified my Woven Scrap Journal project, weaving strips of VHS tape to make the cover of this notebook. (It's edged, by the way, with duct tape-duct tape scores again.)

VHS tape makes excellent ribbon for gift wrap.

You may have seen this trick during the holiday season-VHS tape makes a nice, shiny ribbon for gift wrap. Look at the tape carefully, and you'll notice that one side is slightly more matte than the other. Run this side lightly over a scissor blade, and it will curl beautifully.

Gently stretch the tape to harden it and create a thinner cord.

Playing around with the tape, I discovered that if you gently stretch it, the edges will curl in tightly and it will harden a bit. (You may need a few tries to get the amount of stretch just right, but then you'll be able to make yards of stretched tape quickly, working a section at a time.) The result is something that looks and feels like patent leather cord, and this stuff has lots of possibilities, too.

This thrift-store bag is adorned with loomed flowers made from stretched VHS tape.

Following Cathy Callahan's tutorial for making loomed flowers, I turned out a set of pretty embellishments for this thrift-store straw bag, adding embroidery floss for color. The flowers will stand up to lots of wear and tear.

Stretched VHS tape also lends itself well to macramé.

And then, just for fun, I tried macramé and came up with this quick bracelet. The buttons add a fun touch. (If you have any interest in a how-to for this project, leave a comment and I'll whip something up.)

Granted, all these projects have a Henry Ford "any color you like as long as it's black" vibe, but there's no better way to stretch your creative boundaries than to try to make something new from something old.


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Comments (55)

Stroma writes: Please could you tell me how to make the bracelets.


Posted: 7:13 am on September 21st
WNYOKIE writes: Hi...I really do think the VHS tape has some health hazards. Before you make items that will touch your skin (bracklets) or your food (shopping bags) do some research. This is the only place I didn't see more than two comments about them being bad. I have a ton of tapes and no idea what to do with them. :(
Posted: 1:33 pm on July 4th
janettalk writes: Wonderful idea. It makes me want to grab some of my old VHS tapes and see what I could do. Thank you.
Posted: 8:33 pm on October 12th
stripeykitty writes: Please be very careful when crafting with video tape itself. Read the discussion about health warnings here:
Posted: 9:46 am on August 28th
Whatchamacallit writes: Is this tape, possibly NOT SAFE?
Posted: 10:24 pm on May 19th
Whatchamacallit writes: Is this tape, possibly NOT SAFE?
Posted: 10:24 pm on May 19th
Staxx writes: You destroyed the Princess Bride??!??!? For SHAME!!!
Posted: 4:23 pm on March 1st
ShellyD writes: We made these as ornaments for an everGREEN themed Christmas tree. My niece was so taken with the flowers, that she made them with rhinestone centers and mounted them on hair clips for her friends for Christmas. Thanks for a genius idea.
Posted: 7:25 am on July 24th
banditsmom writes: Would love instructions for the flowers and the bracelet. I think they are adoreable!!
Posted: 11:05 am on June 24th
deedala writes: i am copying a vhs tape to a sd card of my nephew when he was five, he is now 45. i would like to give him the braclet of the tape to wear. how would i go about making it.
it is fantastic. love it ,love it ,love it
Posted: 7:42 pm on March 2nd
bazketmakr writes: I, too, have collected old VHS tapes for years, with the thought that i would weave something with them. I am loving these great innovative ideas! Thank you so much for sharing them. So impressive!
Posted: 1:01 pm on February 25th
bekahdu writes: These are awesome!. I'd love a tutorial for the bracelet -love it..... great work.
Posted: 11:10 pm on February 24th
Siewade writes: Lovely morning! I LOVE your crafts and will definitely give it a try on this with my granddaughters; but before I do that, I have one little concern and i.e. (e.g.)using the tapes for accessories like bracelets, necklaces etc. (those that will be worn to the body).....will the tapes have chemical (side) effects to the skin? I would love to hear your advice and kindly send your reply via email to [email protected]

I really appreciate your reply - thank you and have a good weekend!
Posted: 9:08 pm on February 24th
fantazya writes: Excellent, I love the book hanger ! and the flowers, and the gidt bow !
Posted: 6:57 pm on February 24th
gottaknit123 writes: Hey there!
Love all your stuff! Any tutorials would be great!
Keep up the good work and thanks for all the ideas!
Take care and Happy Turkey Day!
Posted: 11:03 am on November 21st
123amy writes: I love the flowers and the bracelet - and the idea just to use the tape as a faux patent-leather cord. A tutorial on the bracelet would be great!
Posted: 1:51 am on August 31st
cucicucicoo writes: I LOVE these ideas! I have three boxes full of video cassettes that I've been trying to give away and nobody wants them. It breaks my heart to just throw them in the trash. These ideas are fabulous, thanks so much!
Posted: 6:15 am on June 10th
mommaviv writes: Now I know what to do with those workout tapes from the 80's
Posted: 12:59 am on May 26th
kidsmom1999 writes: Great projects!! Thanks for sharing this with us! I am going to try this!
Posted: 10:46 pm on April 21st
Sister_Diane writes: Sharli64, I think the macrame would give you a really sturdy watchband. It might be a good idea to back the macrame with some thin ultrasuede. You could probably glue the two layers together, and then use the ultrasuede part to connect to the watch face.

Sounds really cool! I hope you'll post a picture here so we can see!
Posted: 8:29 pm on April 20th
Sharli64 writes: Oooh, now I need to figure out how to use this to make me a watch band for my watch. I am getting tired of paying $6 or more for a watch band that I wear out within a few months. My watch didn't even cost that much to begin with. Any ideas?
Posted: 2:07 pm on April 18th
bbee writes: Ooooo!! I *needed* a good idea for bookends.
Posted: 5:11 pm on April 7th
croqzine writes: Great projects, Diane! You are so crafty brilliant. Love the applications for the stretched tape. It looks like leather(ish). So many attractive projects to choose from! Love the woven book cover and the bracelet looks better in video tape than it does in hemp! :) Also, love the bookend idea!
Posted: 3:13 am on April 2nd
GuiderLaurie writes: Oops - should have mentioned I was referring to the bracelets made from the video tape!
Posted: 1:48 pm on April 1st
GuiderLaurie writes: Love it!! I'd be really interested in a how-to for this project, as I'm doing an eco camp with my girl guides at the end of the month and something like this would be ideal for them! What a wonderful way to recycle old tapes!!
Posted: 1:47 pm on April 1st
Sparkletree writes: PS - I tried plastic bag "yarn" on the flower loom and they came out really great. Perfect for gift decorating :)
Posted: 12:56 pm on March 30th
Sparkletree writes: This is brilliant!
Posted: 12:55 pm on March 30th
antax writes: cute! you are full of ideas.I love the flowers. I'm going to try using the tapes in plastic canvas. I made a plastic canvas bookmark using the narrow ribbon that is used for gift wrapping. I'll be crocheting something with the tapes too.
Posted: 11:09 am on March 29th
AprilValentine writes: Wonderful! I spent hours this past week searching for ways to recycle vhs tapes and all I found was the site. So I'm happy you posted this with other ideas. I'd love a tutorial on the macrame bracelet. I especially appreicate the pics and directions on how to take the tape box apart.

I won't be destroying great old movies -- what I have are tons of tapes of tv shows I recorded that I now no longer need or have on DVD. I just can't stand the idea of throwing them out and very few places take them for recycling nowadays.

I was also thinking of gluing the boxes together to make book shelves, so I love your bookends idea!
Posted: 10:21 am on March 29th
samsstuff writes: Amazing things that I would have never thought of making with video tape! Great article! Thank you, Diane! I might have to try the bracelet! (I'll have to start with a less enjoyable film than "The Princess Bride" though, even if it is a VHS)
Posted: 9:01 pm on March 28th
Sister_Diane writes: aege8th, not to worry. We love the film, too, which is why we got it on DVD. That VHS tape had been played so many times, it was definitely on its last legs.
Posted: 7:09 pm on March 28th
SweetbriarStudio writes: These are sooooo clever!
Posted: 6:54 pm on March 28th
aege8th writes: Cute idea. Looks like you can use the tape the same way you use raffia (although obviously not as colorful.) could you destroy a copy of The Princess Bride!?? It's one of the best movies ever! (I watch it ever time it comes on TV, sometimes several times in one week! Never get tired of it!) There must be some other videos more worthy of destroying? (I have some Jane Fonda work out tapes around here somewhere!)
Posted: 5:37 pm on March 28th
eyesaflame writes: OK, you are officially Queen of the Craft Lab! I so want to make some of those bookends, but I have to replace my old copy of "Hackers" first . . .
Posted: 5:19 pm on March 28th
fantazya writes: Incredible ! Bravo for your imagination and your talent !!!
Posted: 1:38 pm on March 28th
grammasusan writes: I hang my laundry outdoors to dry as one of my green contributions and because I love the smell of the outdoors that clings to my towels, sheets and skivvies. I crocheted my clothespin bag from old VHS tape. It has withstood rain, snow, sleet, sun and wind for 3 years and is still as bright, shiny and undaunted by the elements as the day I hung the bag on my clothesline. The stuff is practically indestructable, has anyone tried weaving with it?
Posted: 1:19 pm on March 28th
PamHarris writes: Brilliant! Flowers are brilliant! They look fabulous on the tote. Bookends too!
Posted: 12:30 pm on March 28th
kmd811 writes: leethal you gave me an idea. How about crocheting a tote! I bet it would be strong. And it can be used instead of plactic or paper bags for grocery's.
Posted: 12:13 pm on March 28th
cathyofcalifornia writes: so cool diane!!
Posted: 10:59 am on March 28th
TaDaBoutique writes: I think you are awesome. This is really outside the box. You are truly inspiring. Thank you.
Do you have trouble turning off your brain at night like I do. Now I know I will dream about VHS tapes and in the morning I will know why and that I am not crazy.
Love you ideas hope you keep posting more.
Posted: 10:02 am on March 28th
TaDaBoutique writes: I think you are awesome! You think outside the box. I love your ideas. They are truly inspiring. Wondering if you have a problem with turning off your brain. I have that problem, I dream ideas. Now I will be dreaming about VHS tapes. Love it.
Posted: 9:22 am on March 28th
KimsIdleHands writes: WOW!

I wish I had thought of that!
You rule.
Thanks for the great ideas.
Kim and Mush
Posted: 8:39 am on March 28th
SewDanish writes: Brilliant! Even though I pretty much look at everything with my 'how can I use this in my work' eyes, I've never thought about using video tapes. Thank's :-)
Scandinavian Textile Art, Unique Handmade Supplies
Posted: 1:56 am on March 28th
Maureclaire writes: Totally awesome ! I'm starting tonight.... OMG... I'll be making room for things I actually use !
Posted: 10:13 pm on March 27th
JenniferStern writes: You are so clever...I love every one of those ideas. BRAVO!
Posted: 6:57 pm on March 27th
QueenPuffPuff writes: oh my god! I love all these ideas! Diane IS a genius!
Posted: 5:57 pm on March 27th
Taueret writes: You have no idea how glad I am that that amazing mind of yours is industriously bent to the work of GOOD rather than EEEVIL.
Posted: 5:56 pm on March 27th
MichaelaMurphy writes: I know that this one was a beast but what wonder in a monster, right? Super-genius Diane (you and Wile E.)
Posted: 5:31 pm on March 27th
elbowyoyo writes: Crazy-cool ideas ; )

Just wanted to add a word of caution on using tapes for jewelry. A friend of mine crocheted some great bracelets from cassette tapes a few years ago . . . they looked awesome, but they caused rashes on nearly everyone whom she gave one to (including me).

I'm guessing it was from the chemicals that coat the tape during manufacturing. I don't know if the same, or similar, chemicals are used on vhs tape, but I would be careful.

Thanks for the inspiration . . . I may just have to make some bookends this weekend!
Posted: 3:58 pm on March 27th
EEQamouse writes: You must have read my mind. I was literally thinking about how many VHS tapes I have that I never ever watch last night. But I couldn't come up with any crafty re-use for them.
Posted: 3:13 pm on March 27th
BluGinhm writes: I love it! All of it! Yes, please Diane, please give us directions for the cute button bracelet!
Posted: 2:21 pm on March 27th
KimWerker writes: Oh, man. This is genius!
Posted: 2:01 pm on March 27th
leethal writes: LOVE it!! I've been meaning to try knitting and/or crochet with vhs tape for years, and now you've inspired me to actually do it! And I totally LOLed at your iphone joke, btw.
Posted: 1:35 pm on March 27th
Jen_W writes: Oh. My. God. You are killing me. I can't believe you found so many applications for a videotape. I love the twist on raffia flowers. So stinking cute!
Posted: 12:35 pm on March 27th
susanstars writes: Diane, you rule! seriously, an amazing collection!

also, love the Henry Ford bit :)
Posted: 12:28 pm on March 27th
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