TYPES OF SPIKE & GAFFER IN SG
Updated: Dec 25, 2021
Tapes are a crew’s best friend. There’s spike tape, glow tape, carpet tape, electrical tape, masking tape, foam tape, double sided tape, hazard tape, scotch tape… the list goes on. We use them for many different purposes, like taping down cables, marking a set on the stage floor, and fixing props and costumes quickly. Glow tapes are useful for warning performers of hazards on set or finding a spot in the dark.
The two most common tapes that you’ll come across as a crew would probably be gaffer tape and spike tape.
Why is spike/gaffer tape important?
Anything can be solved with gaffer tape! That’s probably one of the things you’ll learn as a crew. And it’s true… if you use copious amounts of gaffer tape. With enough gaffer tape, you can even quickly fix a torn sole on a pair of shoes. Gaffer tape is commonly used to tape cables down in theatres. We can also use it to tape up sharp edges on a set.
Spike tape is part of a stage management team’s essential item. We use them to mark the stage and label our props table. While it is always fun to collect many different coloured spike tapes, always remember to match the colour to its usage. Brighter colours can help a performer or crew to quickly spot their mark on stage, but might also be overly visible to the audience. However, they would be useful in settings where you might need to mark out hazards or entrances and exits for performers.
Where to get spike/gaffer in Singapore
Below are some places where you can get tapes in Singapore. Stage Equip and Tiptape are my favourite places to get tapes. Stage Equip also has some matte coloured spike tapes in colours like violet, that I’m fond of.
In a pinch, bookstores and hardware stores sell gaffer tapes and masking tapes as well. It’ll be cheaper to get them from hardware stores. But be aware, tapes sold here tend to be stickier and leave more residue as compared to brands like Progaff and Le Mark. Most theatrical venues in Singapore will not allow you to use them on their flooring as well, due to the residue. When in doubt, always ask your venue rep first, or better yet show them a sample!
Different brands of spike/gaffer
The market is flooded with many different brands of gaffer/spike tapes. Here are some that you might come across when buying tapes.
Generic cheap brands
Handling spike and gaffer
Tapes are best stored in a dry and cool place. When subjected to heat, even the most expensive tape will melt and get sticky. Tapes tend to last longer in an air-conditioned space. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of an air-conditioned room. I keep mine in an airtight box with a rechargeable dehumidifier.
Tapes also leave their residue on your cutting medium easily. After cutting tape, it’s best to clean the scissors/penknife etc. so that they don’t stick together over time. Alcohol swabs are a quick way to clean your blade. They’re easily available too! Just loot your nearest first aid kit.
Always use the right tape for the right situation! I once watched students use an entire roll of Progaff to turn a white table into a matte black one. A lot of tape was wasted on the table, and it was cheaper, faster, and more aesthetically pleasing to paint it. Don’t waste expensive tape on venues that are outdoors, dusty or on carpeted areas. Cheap, sticky tapes would work better in those situations.
That being said, you are only limited by your imagination. Gaffer tape can be used to create a quick intercom clip holder for the tech table. It can also be used to create a stopper on tables or flat surfaces, so that props and microphones don’t roll off. Masking or gaffer tape can also double up as a lint remover, for those moments when you need to get rid of dirt on your clothes.
Feel free to experiment with different tapes (as far as your wallet allows), to achieve your goal. They may end up being your best friend too!
Disclaimer: This article is written from the writer's point-of-view and their own experience and knowledge. The content has been checked to be factually correct.
By: Celestine Wong
Celestine enjoys working behind the scenes in the local theatre industry. She has worked with various companies and organisations in different roles, though her favourite projects usually involve being behind a lighting console or managing a production. She relishes the different opportunities that come her way, and particularly likes the process of making things happen.