Sunday 17 September 2023

2023 Topic 10: Tags {Topic Introduction}

Hi everyone, Dounia here for the 10th topic of 2023, and the first of this final quarter of 2023 that sits under the overarching theme of Typography. This month will be all about the humble and versatile tag!

Tags are everywhere around us in the 'real' world and have very early on made their into the crafting world. There are now a stable of our craft rooms and have become a type of project of their own, like cards or journal spreads. However, they also can be incorporated into larger projects or combined into more complex pieces!

Therefore this topic is an opportunity to go back to a basic, but also to push the envelope, think outside the box and dream up new ways to use and present tags! We want to explore with you the versatility of this substrate, its potential for transformation and all its forms, from simple to the most elaborate.

To hopeful spark your inspiration, or at least to provide you with some eye candy, this post will dive into all the tags available to us, tags as their own project, tags inside pieces and tags es building blocks. Crossing our fingers that there will be something for everybody!

The preceding image can be an answer to this question by itself, and this shape is certainly the first the first that comes to mind of any paper crafter when hearing 'tag'! However I think we would benefit from remembering that tags are fist very practical and widespread items, available in all sizes and shapes. For that, I wanted to start this post by revisiting the origins of the tag and its past and current everyday uses. Tags were initially use to identify objects and inform on their specifics, like packages in the post:

Packages in transit are particular important to tag to not loose them. The need for luggage tags first arised on trains, as presented on History and examples of Railroad baggage tags on Railroadiana Online, as passengers were separated from possessions, then stored in the luggage car. Knowing where to unload each bag, and who to give it back to was crucial! While they were originally brass, the switch was eventually made to paper:

We still see his system in action when flying! Nowadays these tags are sticky and quite ugly but they used to be much more fun, as evident in this Airport luggage tags collection by Hikaristudio.


When traveling, your luggage is also supposed to carry your identification and contact for safety concerns so personal luggage tags have become ubiquitous . They are a great way to personalise your bag, as exemplified by this extensive Modern luggage tags collection by Pinkoi. For an even more personal touch, you can follow this Tutorial to make your own luggage tab by Sid's Quilts!

Pink Cat Luggage Tag by Pinkoi

If  you were to stay in hotels during your travels, you would get the iconic stickers, or hotel tags. These useful identifiers doubled as advertising and resulted in thousands of designs in all styles. The amount of tags on your suitcase was then a way to show and well traveled and cool you were! For more information, do not hesitate to check the History of Hotel Luggage Tags by Joao-Manuel Mimoso, has well this Extensive pinterest collection by Ojitos for beautiful traditional, art d├ęco or intricate tags.

Now, another type of tag we are sadly all well acquainted with, is the price tag... 

While its first and most important role is to display the price of an item, need to additional display or information and desire to increase branding have pushed manufacturers to create bigger and more elaborate tags. Some can be intricate and ornate, like in this very extensive collection of Hang Tags by Jonthander.

Some betted on a more sleek and modern approach, as the examples in this modern, clean & simple collection by Audrey Sori.

While some capitalize on the current vintage trend , like these recent Ralph Lauren tags! 

 Due  to its different size and need for specific packaging, jewellery boast its own version of tags! The teeny, tiny ones we so love are not the only ones however, as shown in this Jewelry tags collection by Audrey Contreras Alfaro.

To 'sign' their pieces, jewellers also have developed small metal tags, like tiny aesthetic version of the military dog tags. Customizable, they are both branding and decoration. While metal tags might not be in the cards for us, here is a Tutorial to make your own mini tags out of shrink plastic on Penny Dog.

Another world were tagging is essential is clothing: between composition, care instructions and quite a bit of space is necessary! If you are curious about the how and why of our modern tags, check this Brief History of Clothing tags on Tedium. Lots of the clothing manufacturers also took advantage of tags to add some branding, creating some iconic labels! I am sure you will recognise some in this collection of Vintage Clothing Tags by the Clothing Vault.

The Surfing N.C.owboy

Nowadays, inside tags are not just informational; more and more are used to carry extra messages. If you want to have a good laugh, check '50 Of The Funniest Clothing Tags Ever' by Bored Panda!

Traditionally discreet tags are now being though as part of the general design of the garment, playing with conventions and making clothing tags ornamental and fun. See more in this Collection of Modern Clever Clothing Tags by Mia Troyer.

Now back to the craft world! As I said at the start, tags are often a very identifiable shape, so cutting that shape of any material makes a tag. Easy! Tags are therefore an incredible opportunity the recycle or upcycle old papers or packaging. you can take advantage of the pattern already present and keep an indication of the tag former life, like with these playing cards tags.

Or you can use the tag shape and size to reduce the original meaning item to a random pattern. This work particularly well with charts, maps or, like here, dress patterns.

You can of course go the other way and purposefully keep the images of the original item to decorate your tags. This is the idea behind Reusing Christmas Cards as Gift Tags by Upcycle my Stuff ot making Tags from Colouring Book Pages by Cleverpedia.

A tag is also definite by its function: providing provenance and destination, so you do not much to make paper into a tag, as shown by this Penmanship Gift Tag tutorial by Beverly McCullough.

When not adorning bags or gifts, tags traditionally provide additional information or branding, and crafters have their own versions, especially with word tags. Those are an great and personal way to add meaning and complexity to a project. To get started check this Easy Word Tags video by Mad Paper Crush.

Of course, an easy way to make a tag, is to start from tag... For some upcycling check this Altered Clothing Tag video by Soul Positive. Otherwise, I know you have some blank tags in your stash! Then everything is possible for style, colour and complexity. If you like thrifty and simple you might way to check this clean and simple mini Tag Art collection by Carol Jensen.

Maybe you prefer a more neutral and impactful style:

For subtle and delicate examples, go browse this vintage and shabby chic Tag Art collection by Karen Trueman.

Jenny Marples on the PaperArtsy Blog

You might also encounter some bright and intricate tags:

If your style is rather abstract and textured, this modern mixed media Tag Art collection by Raymond Moreno is probably for you!

For the collage artists, I present the collaged Tag Art collection by MiscE.

An infinite playing field! as relatively small projects, tags are also a great opportunity to work in series, be it colourful and funky:

Or vintage and soft:

Of course you are not limited to paper tags... Here the artist weaved the tags with threads made to mimic rust and age!

Jeanne Medina

Fabric is an amazing substrate for tag, allowing folding, sewing and more. You can find lots pf ideas in these Fabric and Lace Tags collection by Charm Fab Art.

Another versatile aspect of tags is their size. Gigantic ones made of wood, cardboard or MDF are available for big projects (this one is almost A4!).

But teeny tiny ones are also so much fun! Thay are made for assembly line type product and one play session will see you stocked for quite some time! For an eample in practice, check this 
Junk Journal Word Tags video by Tina Kazarian.

You can go even smaller with  the Teeny Tiny Mini Tags video tutorial by Junk Journal Ideas. You might then have to branch out and steal supplies from other craft worlds, like nail decorations for these Mini tags by Koyo Sensebe 

I hope this give you an inkling of the possibilities tags offer. Finally, once you are done, you will need somewhere to store all those tags, so I recommend this Old Book Accordion Organizer tutorial by Wings of Whimsy!

While tags make fantastic project of their own their are also amazing elements to add to bigger pieces. They can be the star of the show, the iconic shape detaching from the background.

In this flip book, the tags are used as frame for the inside images, popping from the background thank to the bright and fun colours.

They pair fantastically with other ephemera like labels, tickets or frames, for a vintage card, a thematic bullet journal spread or a travel scrapbook layout.

As they are tags, they can be used to... tag other elements of the project, adding fun and authentic details.

This is particularly true for the tiny jewellery tags, who will find space even on the smallest of cards (r even bigger tags!). I am not the only only to think so, considering this Tiny tags collection by Athena Jones.

With their regular shape, tags are easy to use in multiples to build a composition. The straight edges provide direction and movement while the eyelets break the lines for an cohesive but not boring piece. 

Repetition of a shape is always effective to create a pattern and bring homogeneity to multiples elements. Here it makes the oval 25 stand out even more in the regular grid of tags.

Tag Advent Calendar by Giovanna on One Lucky Day

The same concept is used here but is a bit more disguised by the mix of colour, the shape of the tags and the abondance of decoration. The structure still help the whole page not look not busy and brings the eye to consider each little composition.

Tags in a project can also be movable... tags in pockets are a classic after all. Many shapes and styles are possible for the tag holders, opening a new avenue of exploration! One important question is: how hidden do you want your tags to be? They can be half visible, chiming or contrasting with their pockets.

Or they can be mostly hidden, perfect to write secret and preserve precious memories.
At the opposite of movable tags, you can use tag stamps to completely integrate them to a project. Here is an example from out Ink & the dog line.

Printed tag create an illusion, a distinct object that is actually flat and indissociable from the substrate. An interesting duality to play with...

Lets now check project using tags as building block. First I have to share again this amazing tag hair lady by designer Lynne Perrella. I think it is an amazing inspiration to find new place to add tags!
Tags can be made into other elements and embellishments, as shown in  this 10 ideas for Altered Clothes Tags video by Treasure Books. But let's be real, projects made of tags are main tag books! Here again tag book are incredibly versatile as there are so many way to assemble them. I will start with the classic 'tags held together by the eyelets'.

There are multiple possible variation of this concept, and not just in style! For example, among this Bright and modern tag bocks collection by Jill Wolf, you can find this clever size gradient colour book:

Another beloved tag book is the accordion linked by a ribbon. This on allows you the both create independent composition on each tag but also to make them interact when the book is unfolded.

Tags can make the cover of your book, especially if they are jumbo. The eyelets provide an easy closing opportunity and you can them fill your book with... more tags! For more inspiration be sure to visit this Scrappy and vintage tag books collection by Anita May

After the covers, the tags are now the page! glued on a accordion base, each tags is a mini work of art. Be sure to check Carol posts to appreciate them!

Carol Quance on the PaperArtsy Blog

Finally, we have this unusual Renaissance casket by Julie Ann Lee. Is it a book, is it not? It is certainly beautiful and made of tag so it should show you that more possibilities are yet to be uncovered!

Julie Ann Lee on the PaperArtsy Blog

I hope this post as got you fired up for all things tags, and maybe given you that last push to get into the craftroom (out on the craft table) and visit or revisit tags! Our fabulous team our bloggers will be giving you even ore inspiration in the coming moth, so stay tuned!

If you want to create along with us we would love to see what you get up to! 

You could tag us on Facebook, Instagram @paperartsy , Twitter, or post in PaperArtsy People Group on Facebook. We really love to hear about how the blog topics have inspired you, so don't be shy!!  


Words and Pictures said...

What a fabulous post... Brava, Dounia!
Alison x

Mary in Oregon said...

Quite a collection of inspiring tags! Hooray! Now, to find my materials and ephemera to create my own collection of tags or even a few gifties! Merci, Dounia for all your searching!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! So very inspiring!