Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

We’ve never opened a post with one of our YouTube videos, but I thought it would be fun to see if you could guess just whose portrait is coming to life right before your very eyes (it’s easy if you recognize the music right away!). It’s only a minute and a half long, so take a look:

Before I saw the pop art portrait shown below, I had done a paint chip portrait (link at the end of this post) –  but I hadn’t thought to work with duct tape of all things! Duct tape is such an interesting choice because it comes in so many colours and patterns; it’s the perfect medium to create pop art!

I got further inspiration from a website called Artyfactory that provides free designs to try out. Below is a selection of just a few of the art samples on their site. I adapted one of these to create my own duct tape pop art portrait. I encourage you to visit the Artyfactory site; you too will be inspired!

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If you watched the video, you’ll know that I chose to work with the Elvis! Now I’m going to share with you the techniques I developed so you can try out this fun craft for yourself!

Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Backing: I had a piece of thin plastic that was ideal because it allowed me to peel up any ‘mistakes’ but you could also use canvas.
  • Regular printer paper
  • Colour printer
  • Painters tape
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Waxed paper or glossy backing from labels etc.

This is the design I used from Artyfactory:

I enlarged it to create a template on a full sheet of paper – 8 1/2″ x 11″. I printed out two copies: one copy was on plain white paper as-is. The other copy I printed on freezer paper, but I mirror imaged the template and then made sure that my freezer paper would print on the paper side (not glossy) when it went through the printer. I used the freezer paper template for arranging all my cut pieces of duct tape onto (which you’ll see later).

I also printed out a colour copy of the template (thumbnail size as shown below) so I could determine my colours. I only had 9 colours of duct tape and the original artwork used about 15 distinct colours. If you happen to have 15 different colours of duct tape on hand, you’re good to go.

Since I was 6 colours short, to compensate, I made a list of background colours that I did have and was going to use column-by-column; I wrote everything beneath the colour thumbnail so I could refer back to it. I also made a list of coordinating colours for the face for each of the squares. Writing out a list will help keep it all straight! However, if you’re handy with photoshop you can also change it right on your computer so you have a true visual representation. By the way, you really can’t go wrong with the colour selection as long as you mix it up well.

As you can see below, I also numbered each square of the coloured copy and I transposed the same numbers onto the paper template. You’ll find numbering to be helpful when it comes time for assembly just in case some of the pieces get mixed up (they shouldn’t if you follow my organization tips, but you never know).

Constructing the Background

To start, I marked out my squares on the plastic backing. My backing was larger than 8 1/2″ x 11″ which wasn’t a problem because I planned on cutting it to size when the artwork was finished to neaten all the edges.

I actually mis-measured the first time and made all my squares too small! I didn’t discover that until I was done. Like Elvis once said, ‘when things go wrong, don’t go with them’. So in this instance, I flipped over the plastic and started the background all over again! If you want to avoid my mistake, you should heed the sage advice to measure twice and cut once! As a DIY blogger though, I have to admit that I welcome my mistakes. The more mistakes I make, the more I learn about how to perfect my craft technique and pass that along to you!

I rolled out a piece of duct tape for the first background colour onto my glossy backing and cut it with scissors.  Then I measured my square and cut it to length on a paper cutter.

Once I had all my background colours cut, I referred back to my colour list to double check before placing them onto each square. You could also lightly pencil in your colours on your backing first, but be sure to erase them because colours like white will show the pencil marks right through it!

Because I initially made the squares too small, I ended up having to overlap the duct tape to get a larger sized square. As you can see below, the squares are larger than the width of the duct tape so you’ll end up with a seam. I first added a strip about 3/8″, then I overlapped the full width of the duct tape on top of that:

Constructing the Face

Once the background is fully covered by the duct tape squares, grab the piece of freezer paper previously printed as a mirror image and flip it over so that the glossy side is facing up. You will be able to see the face coming through (the image is now right side up again). You’ll be using the freezer paper to assemble all the cut pieces on before they are transferred to the portrait itself.

Next, I used the paper template as the pattern to cut out the pieces of the face. I cut up one square at a time. Use pieces of painters tape rolled back on itself so you can stick the paper template on top of the duct tape to cut out the pieces. Once each piece of duct tape is cut, stick it to the respective section of the freezer paper pattern so you don’t loose your pieces (don’t remove the backing from the duct tape yet!). The glossy side of the freezer paper allows the painters tape to stick just enough to keep it in place, but not so much that it’s an effort to pull it off again.

The picture below shows the pieces stuck onto the freezer paper with painters tape to keep them all organized by each individual square. If you don’t have freezer paper, that’s ok because I have a great workaround: print out another paper copy of the template and staple a sheet of waxed paper on top of it. It’s just one extra step but it will work just as well as the freezer paper!

Once all the face pieces were cut and placed on the freezer paper, I worked square-by-square to transfer the pieces onto the background.

Start from the left hand side when you transfer each piece onto the background. Use the painters tape as a hinge to hold onto the duct tape as you peel the glossy backing from each piece. The painters tape will help you transfer and position the piece onto the background squares without having to touch the sticky backing. It’s important to use the painters tape in this fashion to avoid the pieces sticking to your fingers; if that happens, the duct tape may get mangled if you try to unstick it and you’ll have to re-cut the piece!

The beauty of having squares makes it very easy to line up the pieces! It probably didn’t take me any more than 20 minutes or so to transfer everything onto the background.

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Once everything was stuck down, I trimmed my backing to size and faster than Elvis could leave the building, I was done!

Since the pattern comes right to the edge, I framed it using a shadow box.

Elvis may have left the building, but he lives on forever in duct tape splendour! Don’t forget to pin and share if you enjoyed this post!

It won’t be long before we’re right back here again with more creative ideas so subscribe to our blog and Youtube channel to get notified whenever we post a new idea! You can also follow Birdz of a Feather on Pinterest and Facebook.

If you’re not a regular, here are a few things you may have missed:

Paint chip portrait:

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Tuna Can Swing Out Storage Tower:

Fire Pit Upcyle:

Indoor floating water feature:
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Blue jean plant stand:

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Paint Stick Pallet Wall Hanger:

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Check out our Craft Rehab category for more!

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11 thoughts on “Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

  1. SO excited to finally have specifics on how to do this, have been collecting tape colors at the Dollar store for my daughter to try this- very intriguing! Thanks for updating 🙂

    • Great – so happy to hear that! I meant to post this earlier; it totally slipped my mind 🙂 I’d love to see what your daughter does – send me a picture!

  2. You’re always up to something interesting, Sara. This looks like fun. My son went through a duct tape phase when he was around ten. I wish we had know about this then. I think he would have jumped on it.

    Has spring weather made an appearance yet? We’re half-way to May now.

    • Thanks Alys – this one was a lot of fun! Spring isn’t even in the dictionary in Canada this year. We just had a treacherous ice storm here. We were shut ins for 3 days and we had a power outage on Monday. The thermometer will go up a bit this week so hopefully things will melt soon. Remember when I told you it’s safe to plant after the May 24 weekend? We’ll I might have spoken too early 🙂

  3. How did you make the other pop art photo of a man and woman (maybe you and your significant other) in sunglasses? That is so cool.

    • Hi Tammie – thanks! I’ll have a DIY for that one posted eventually too 🙂 If you’re a subscriber, you’ll see it in the e-mail (or on Bloglovin’). You need a regular photo and editing software; I used photoshop.

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