In the 1940s the United States military asked Johnson & Johnson to devise “a waterproof, strong cloth based tape that could keep moisture out of ammunition cases.” The result was a superhero adhesive tape made from a rubber-based adhesive applied to a durable duck cloth backing. Originally called duck tape, due to its cotton duck substrate, at some point during the last half of the 20th century it became better known as duct tape, owing to its employment in ductwork.

But over the years something else evolved with the product along with its name. It became the absolute darling of the do-it-yourself set — the indispensable item in the tool box, craft room, car trunk, back pack, sports bag and junk drawer, not to mention submarines and NASA spaceships. It's the sine qua non for emergency hacks and for making do with what you have. And its durability makes it an integral component in extending the usability of broken things, giving them a new lease on life and keeping them out of the rubbish heap. And although to some, duct tape crafts and repairs may scream, "low-rent and tacky," we're seeing a shift in the zeitgeist that suggests a new era of duct-tape chic is in the air. So find some inspiration here and get taping.

1. Fix a leaky boat


Photo: LexnGer/Flickr

2. Fashion some fisherman sandles


Photo: Bruce A Stockwell/Flickr

3. Construct dollhouse furniture


Photo: susan402/Flickr

4. Pimp your ride with flashlight headlights


Photo: Toban Black/Flickr

5. Craft a pretty posy


Photo: Cali4beach/Flickr

6. Make a crochet hook or knitting needle case


Photo: Dvortygirl/Flickr

7. Channel your inner Duct Tape Boy with a fancy costume


Photo: &y/Flickr

8. Insulate ventilated biking shoes for cold weather


Photo: Thirteen Of Clubs/Flickr

9. Create a nifty vegan wallet


Photo: mpolla/Flickr

10. Repair your smashed windshield for the drive to the auto body shop


Photo: LongitudeLatitude/Flickr

11. Cobble some shoes


Photo: mhaithaca/Flickr

12. Draft an army of homemade toys


Photo: Micah68/Flickr

13. Indulge in the 'ol duct tape necktie trick


Photo: jasoneppink/Flickr

14. Construct a camera bag


Photo: [j°Sh]/Flickr

15. Make a set of emergency flip flops


Photo: /Clint Lalonde/Flickr

16. Create a unique iPod case


Photo: indigotimbre/Flickr

17. Make a handbag


Photo: starshaped/Flickr

18. Build a collapsible lightbox


Photo: dpup/Flickr

19. Craft a game or gadget pouch


Photo: Derringdos/Flickr

20. And the most practical use of all, tape a gorilla to a tree...


Photo: same_same/Flickr

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This story was originally written for Treehugger. Copyright 2012.