(From left) Damien Field, 13, gets help from Rob Branigin as Layne Seay, 12, and Calvin Drake, 12, make duct tape wallets at Stanwood Library on Oct. 28. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Stanwood Library reaches out to teens with duct tape crafts

STANWOOD — It didn’t take long for the 10 kids gathered around the table to discover what they called the major “disbenefit” of duct tape.

Once you stick it, it stays stuck.

Local middle and high school students wrestled with the tape during an after-school craft program at the Stanwood Library. Rolls of it, in different colors and patterns, were spread out on a pair of rectangular tables pushed together in the library’s back room. The goal, between eating big bites of pizza and handfuls of microwave popcorn, was for each kid to make a duct tape wallet.

They chose their tape carefully. Some selected patterns, such as red lips on a black background or bright red and orange flames. Others stuck to single colors of neon pink or green. There was a camouflage pattern and rolls with penguins, bacon strips and the characters from the popular gaming app “Angry Birds.”

“Angry Birds are the best,” one crafter insisted, cutting off a strip of tape.

His neighbor nudged another kid at the table. “I need the flames, man.”

Rob Branigin, who has been the teen librarian in Stanwood for 10 years, led the group through making wallets. He demonstrated with plain silver tape. This year, he started doing after-school programs at 3 p.m. every Friday. The library is next to the middle school and most of the programs are geared toward that age group, from late elementary through early high school. Along with crafts, he’s put together Minecraft workshops and movie days.

“We do these programs not just as something for the kids to do, but because it gives me a chance to interact with them not in supervisory way, but in a cooperative way,” he said. “We want to know the kids who come into the library.”

Duct tape crafts are a perfect program for young people because it brings out their creativity and offers enough of a challenge to keep their interest, he said. It’s also affordable. The only supplies needed are rulers, scissors and tape. Lots of tape.

Friday’s project led to a discussion of how the durable, waterproof tape was invented for the military during World War II. It also sparked some interesting questions, and a few tongue-in-cheek answers.

“Why don’t they make duct tape with ducks on it?” Layne Seay, a seventh grader at Stanwood Middle School, asked.

“Then it would just become a pun,” answered Michael Miller, a freshman at Stanwood High School.

The group also wondered if they could make shoes or cell phone cases. The question of why it’s mistakenly called “duck tape” came up, as well.

“That must be the answer,” Layne declared. “It’s as strong as ducks.”

“How strong are ducks?” someone asked.

“Pretty strong,” came the response from across the table. “I mean, the muscular ones.”

Jared Lewman, 13, couldn’t quite master the wallet, but he did create a small pouch. The eighth grader was hanging out at the library and Branigin invited him to the event.

Jared offered some advice for fellow crafters: try not to let the tape stick where it’s not supposed to. It’s not easy advice to follow, and the room was filled with the sound of duct tape being pulled off of the table, hands and other pieces of tape.

Michael just turned 15 and got duct tape as one of his birthday presents. He wanted to learn how to make stuff with of it. He saw an episode of “Mythbusters” where they made a duct tape boat that actually floated. He’s also heard of the 1980s television hero named MacGyver who could use duct tape and other random items to create amazing things.

“I just think duct tape is really practical,” he said. “It’s cheap and anyone can make anything out of it.”

Branigin tries to keep things interesting by switching up the afterschool programs. This Friday, he’s planning a movie. He’ll come up with a few options and let the kids choose when they get there, he said.

Some of the participants are regulars, while others visit occasionally. Layne doesn’t go to the library often. He came to the duct tape event with friends. He ended up having fun and leaving with a new wallet.

“I’m gonna use this now,” Layne said. “All the time.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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