Washi Tape Photo Corners

I used to have a box of commercial photo corners, clear ones like these that I found somewhere in my parent’s stationery and, um, adopted. I use them in scrapbooking to hold down photos. I know I could just glue the photos in, or tape the photos down, and I sometimes do. But most of the time I like to be able to take the photos out in future and not have a sticky mess on them. I also use them to hold in things where I’m not sure the glue will stick, like plastic tickets.

I ran out of photo corners while in Japan and I could not find them anywhere. After much searching I found a tutorial for making photo corners from washi tape (Japanese). After much practice I think I’ve improved the technique a little bit so I thought it was worth expanding on and making available in English.

The first thing you’ll need is washi tape1. These days washi tape is available just about anywhere, from Kmart to IKEA so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. This technique also uses the most common kind of washi tape, 15mm wide tape in a simple design.

Different kinds of washi tape. Cutout tape, 6mm wide tape, 30mm wide tape, 15mm wide tape with simple designs, 15mm wide tape with complex designs, washi tape stickers

This technique won’t work with fancy tape with a cutout shape, the 6mm (or thinner!) tape, washi tape stickers, or tape with complex designs. You can use wider tapes like 30mm, but this will make very large corners. Very large corners might be useful for holding booklets, but since I’m mostly using Instax mini, I use the standard 15mm tape to make photo corners.

I’m going to illustrate this tutorial using a tape with a design of a ruler marked in centimetres, which is very handy for showing how to do this and how much tape is used. I wouldn’t usually use this design because large designs like this are lost in the tiny photo corner. I’d usually recommend a tape with a simple design (stripes, diamonds) or plain colours. Save your cute character tapes for borders or backgrounds.

Scissors, 15mm washi tape, an Instax mini photo, a grey scrapbooking page

Here’s what you need:

  1. Scissors, a tape cutter, a knife, or really good tearing skills
  2. 15mm washi tape
  3. Something you want to stick down, like a photo or ticket
  4. Something you want to stick it to, like a scrapbook album page or a greeting card

5cm of washi tape peeled off the roll

Find the end of your tape and peel off about 5cm.

1cm down from the end of the tape, there is a fold in the tape. On the inside is a 90º angle and on the outside there are two 135º angles, like when a corner is cut off a square

Leaving 1cm2 of tail, with sticky sides together, fold the tape so it goes at 90º to where it was before. It should have a cut-off sort of corner, with two 135º angles on the outside.

1cm down from the end of the tape, there is a fold in the tape. On the outside there is a 135º angle, then a 90º angle, then another 135º angle so that the tape goes back the way it came from leaving a point

Fold again, sticky sides together. The tail and the part attached to the roll should have the sticky sides facing the same way, and there should be a 90º corner on the tape.

As above, but the tape is up the other way with the sticky side up

Turn the tape so the sticky side faces up.

1cm down from the end of the tape, there is a fold in the tape. From the end of the tape, with sticky side up, going along the left edge: 1cm straight, 90º angle, 15mm (width of tape) along, 90º angle, straight to roll. Going along the right edge: 1cm straight, 135º angle, ~21mm, 225º angle, straight to roll.

Fold the part attached to the roll down as far as you can.

The two halves are being folded together like closing a book, with the left side on top of the right.

Fold down the middle, as if closing a book (a vertical valley fold).

Sticky side of the tape is facing up. The end of the tape is at the top, the roll is at the bottom. There is 1cm of sticky side, then a triangle of not-sticky, then sticky side is up all the way

Turn it over so the sticky side faces up.

A triangle has been cut off the end of the left edge of the end of the tape. Going up the right-hand side of the tape, from the roll there are: a few cm of sticky side, 15mm of not-sticky side, 1cm of sticky side. Going up the left-hand side, there are a few cm of sticky side, and then the point of the not-sticky triangle, and then the end of the tape

Cut off the end of the tape on an angle, to mirror the non-sticky triangle.

The triangle at the end of the tape has been folded down towards the viewer, over the non-sticky triangle, it does not match exactly.

Fold the end down towards you.

The work has been cut from the roll and turned sticky side down. It now has a triangular pocket facing up

Cut the tape straight across under the triangle. You should then have a sticky triangle and a not-sticky triangle. If you turn it over, you will have a little pocket. I used 5.5cm of tape to make this photo corner.

A page from a scrapbook with 6 Instax mini photos. From top left, a print has photo corners on two corners, a print has photo corners on two corners, a print is held down by tape on four sides, a print has photo corners on two corners, two prints are taped by tape on three sides

Now you can use your photo corner! I generally use two on opposite corners to hold down an Instax mini print, which is 54mm by 86mm. I would recommend four to hold down a 4” by 6” photo print. Make sure to press firmly over the sticky bit, which isn’t under the bit that goes over the photo. You will have to touch the photo, sorry… maybe use a tissue over your finger if you’re worried about oils from your hands.

A page from a photo album. All six photos are held in with washi tape photo corners

  1. Confusingly, washi tape is not made of washi, a type of Japanese paper. In Japan it’s known simply as masking tape (マスキングテープ). 

  2. If you would like to be a perfectionist you can leave 1.5cm at the end and it will look neater on the back, but nobody can see the back so I save 0.5cm of tape and just use 1cm.