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A Sticky Situation 

Madeline Harris has big plans for her future. A recent graduate of Pendleton Heights High School and a self-described "art person," Harris has her eye on the field of character animation, eventually hoping to work for Pixar or its parent company, Disney. She's headed to California this fall to begin working on her undergraduate degree, and she would like to attend graduate school at the California Institute of Art (alma mater of many a Pixar employee) to major in directing. Given her skill with detail and eye for design, her career trajectory is well aligned.

The Pendleton pair put in over 300 hours of work on their patriotic duds.  - GEORGE HARRIS
  • George Harris
  • The Pendleton pair put in over 300 hours of work on their patriotic duds.

Harris recently gained national attention for the prom outfits she and friend Aaron Porter designed out of duct tape. Top 10 finalists in Duck® Tape's nationwide Stuck at Prom contest, she and Porter spent more than 300 hours creating complementary, patriotic-themed outfits from red, white, blue, and silver duct tape. A close look at the outfits reveals a myriad of details, including the epaulets on Porter's military-style jacket, a line of roses below the bodice of Harris' dress, a duct-tape wrist corsage, and even a red-and-white-striped walking stick for Porter. Harris wanted to use a partial military theme instead of a standard tuxedo jacket as a way to support the troops who wear their military uniforms even when they go to formal events. A closer look at Porter's jacket reveals buttons, ropes, stars, and even a blue rose on the lapel.

Porter started making duct tape items in eighth grade, but took a break until recently. His creations included bows, roses, wallets, a jacket, and even duct tape shoes. Harris had never made anything with the material before and was brought onboard by Porter because of her artistic skill and the friendship the two had formed in show choir. Harris says she and Porter "thought of [the contest] as more of an art project than anything else -- just another deadline to get done" and they collaborated on the design, assembling the outfits piece by piece.

The vest and hat that Porter sported at Pendleton's prom were completed before Harris started helping with the outfits' construction. The majority of the time -- "probably 200 hours" -- was spent assembling the dress: "We made each of the stripes like a panel, each panel individually, cut them into a triangular shape, and connected them together piece by piece." Harris made the boning and other structural elements out of grey tape, which was covered with the finished design. The garments are comprised entirely of tape -- 28 rolls, to be exact -- none of which was sewn, buttoned, zippered, or otherwise held together. Harris explains, "With our knowledge of art, duct tape, and sewing, we both came up with some really interesting ideas about how to almost build this sort of dress and tux. We had more of an engineer standpoint and planned all of it out." She continues, "We came up with some pretty kooky ideas on how to put this thing together," laughing when she says, "It's very hot."

click to enlarge It's not a tale as old as time, but Harris has been working on her fashion since she was just 13. - GEORGE HARRIS
  • George Harris
  • It's not a tale as old as time, but Harris has been working on her fashion since she was just 13.

Though Harris was new to duct tape construction, she was experienced with design. When she was 13, she re-created the gold dress that Belle wears in "Beauty and the Beast," showing a clear and early interest in the movement of clothing and character design that will lend themselves to her future studies in animation. Perhaps it was that experience that enabled Harris and Porter to make her patriotic dress without a pattern. They're also proud to say they completed the project on their own, even though they could have had help from friends and family. Aside from their parents providing transportation and a place to store the works in progress, the assembly was solely "a project between two high school students."

Harris is most pleased that making it to the Stuck at Prom top 10 has been great for building community in Pendleton: "They're very happy with all the attention and very supportive. Everyone wants to see the outfits. Everyone is talking about it." Even though she and Porter got frustrated with each other and Harris was in the dress nearly every day during the 'build,' their efforts clearly paid off. The friends have been invited to appear in Pendleton's Fourth of July parade and their entry has received national attention.

In the future, Harris will consider using duct tape for her art projects "if something comes to mind." For now, she's happy to make public appearances in the dress and might donate it to the Pendleton Historical Museum or the Pendleton Artists Society: "It can be a reminder of what Pendleton people have done." As for the dress' future home, it just depends on who would appreciate it. Laughing again, Harris says, "I'm not sure who would want a duct tape dress."

This goes way beyond the duct tape wallets you made as a teen; the details on the tux and gown would make a master tailor proud.  - GEORGE HARRIS
  • George Harris
  • This goes way beyond the duct tape wallets you made as a teen; the details on the tux and gown would make a master tailor proud.

Voting for the Stuck at Prom contest is open until July 8; site visitors can vote once a day. First place winners will be awarded $10,000 each and $5,000 for the school's next prom. If Harris and Porter win, they'll use the money for college. Of the experience, Harris says, "It's a really incredible thing and we honestly didn't think we were going to make it to the top 10. We did it as something to tell a story about." She continues, "Both of us are pretty social people so we thought it would be fun to be able to say, "Hey, one time in high school we made a duct tape dress."

Learn more about the Stuck at Prom contest, see pictures of last year's winners, and view a gallery of the other nine couples in this year's contest at the Duck® Brand website.

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About The Author

Chi Sherman

Chi Sherman

Chi Sherman enjoys writing essays and poetry, being a documentary nerd, and hanging out with her family and friends. Her work has appeared in NUVO, The Huffington Post, and, sporadically, on her blog.

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