Vetrap, Coflex, Coban---whatever you call it, may be one of the most underrated materials when it comes to crafting. The soft, stretchy material that sticks only to itself can be used for a huge variety of crafts and offers the imagination endless opportunities.
What is it?
Originally developed by the Minnesota company 3-M, Vetrap or Coban as it is called in human medical practice is an elastic "cohesive bandage" (thus Coban) material that adheres only to itself, not the surfaces on which it is used. It is commonly used as a compression bandage on both humans and livestock because it won't stick to limbs, hair or clothing. The material is soft, breathable and easy to shape. It is those very qualities that also make it perfect for crafting.
Where do I find it?
While you can purchase cohesive bandages in the first aid section of many drugstores, the more economical option is to find your local farm store (Tractor Supply, Bomgaars, etc) and buy the livestock version. It is typically found in the horse section of the store. Extensively used in the equine industry for both injuries and "flair", the livestock version comes in a huge variety of colors and is found at a much lower price. Generally, a 4 inch by 5 yard roll of Vetrap (also sold under other brands as CoFlex, Powerflex, etc) can be purchased for $3 or less. It comes in a huge variety of colors and designs.
What do I do with it?
The real question is, what DON'T you do with it! The material lends itself to creating a wide variety of projects---it cuts easily with a child's scissors and because it adheres to itself, you can "sew" edges of material into a new design simply by pressing them together. By putting bigger pieces together or sticking it over a mold (cardboard, paper, etc), it also sculpts into shapes almost like clay. While older kids and even adults may aim for higher designs, it is easy enough to use that even the smallest of hands can shape their creations with it. The material is also easy to clean up as it isn't "sticky" like tape and small pieces can be vacuumed or swept with ease.
One of the first projects that jumps into many young minds is making doll clothes. The stretchy material lends itself well to this task---easily cutting into small design components and the simple attachment mechanism of pressing it together lends itself well to even the smallest of hands. If you don't like how it looks the first time, just pull apart and rearrange!
Kids can scale things up to creating their own clothes as well! Headbands, dresses, even shoes (with the help of a little cardboard structure underneath) can all be made with the material--no sewing needed!
As cohesive bandages are often used in the equestrian community, many young equestrians choose to use the material to make "tack" for their model horses. Saddles, bridles, blankets and leg wraps are all easily made with a few snips of the scissors. Decorations for other toys can be made too--an army backpack for a toy soldier or window dressings for a doll house. The possibilities are endless!
Cohesive bandages can also be made into entirely new toys. Crumpled paper makes the perfect superstructure to wrap the bandage around and then "sculpt" into any character or shape that comes to mind. An ER tech in California has made an entire side business and successful Instagram account entirely out of cohesive bandage creations.
Fun, safe, easy to clean up and easy to use, cohesive bandage is the unsung hero of summertime kids crafts!