When Sparky, the energetic family dog, poked a hole in Cassandra Openshaw’s prom gown at their Milbridge home recently, it was not the teen fashion calamity you might suppose. Openshaw just whipped out a role of duct tape. And voila! It was prom-ready once more. (w/pics)

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Duct tape?

That’s right. This is not your mother’s prom dress. Satin, lace and sequins have been exchanged for the tough, cloth-reinforced tape normally reserved for plumbing and heating repairs.

For the past month, 17-year-old Openshaw and Nick Martin, 15, of Addison, her date for this year’s prom at Narraguagus High School, have been working on making their fancy dance duds out of the tough, sticky tape in colors such as camouflage, yellow, bright green, dark green, purple, pink, orange and, of course, basic black and white, a must for formal wear. Every color, it seems, except silver-gray.

Forty-five rolls of duct tape later, they were ready Saturday to suit up in their mucilaginous melange of plastic-coated tape and head off to the prom.

"What could be more special than something you made yourself and being the only ones there with something like this?" Martin asked.

Their outfits were matching black and white, accented casually with a tropical theme, designed to complement the tropical theme of the prom, according to Openshaw, who headed the prom committee.

"We had a tropical theme for the prom, so we tied this in with that theme," she said.

From the tip of her flip-flops to the flowers in her hair, from the top of Martin’s hat to the bottoms of his sneakers, they were all duct tape.

The outfits, in keeping with the tropical theme, were festooned with clinging vines and fluorescent flowers, pineapples, and passion flowers of orange, pink and purple. Accouterments, of course, also were of duct tape. Her purse, duct-taped. His pink tie, also duct tape.

They used store-bought patterns to create their outfits with varying degrees of success.

"My dress was definitely the easiest part," Openshaw said.

Martin’s jacket was the toughest. "The sleeves kept falling off," she said.

"Originally we had it in four pieces," Martin added. "Then we got it into one piece, and then two pieces. It was confusing."

Their foray into adhesive fashion is not just a teenage whim. Openshaw and Martin decided to exchange taffeta for tape in order to compete in a nationwide contest sponsored by Henkel Consumer Adhesives Inc., which markets the Duck Tape brand of duct tape.

The winning couple in the contest, which is judged on workmanship, originality, use of colors, accessories and the quantity of duct tape used, receives $6,000 in scholarships, or $3,000 each. Their school also receives $3,000.

The contest runs through June 8. Photos of each entry will be posted on the company’s Web site: www.stuckatprom.com, where the public will vote on its favorites. Winners will be chosen solely based on the online voting.

The scholarship money was definitely a draw for the two teenagers, both of whom plan to go to college, but they already had a history of making things with duct tape.

Both are members of the local Destination Imagination team, which competes in contests designed to develop creativity, critical thinking skills and teamwork. Their team has won local and regional contests and will compete later this year at the Global Finals in Tennessee.

The competition requires that they prepare an improvisation on a given topic using certain materials, according to Openshaw. Those materials generally include duct tape and cardboard. The list of things they’ve made includes theatrical sets, masks, chickens, pigs and props.

"This is the first clothing we’ve made," she said.

There are advantages to wearing duct tape clothing. It doesn’t get dirty when you walk on it, she said, and she wasn’t worried about getting it wet in the showers that fell Saturday night.

But getting ready for the prom proved to be a chore; the stiffness of the multiple layers of tape making it difficult to get dressed.

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"It’s a lot easier to get this off than to get it on," Martin grumbled.

It required a bit of acrobatic agility as the duo bent, hunched, stooped, stretched and wriggled into the dress and tuxedo. And once dressed, moving became a challenge.

"I can’t get my purse," Openshaw complained, unable to bend in the taped gown.

Martin walked on unbending knees, resembling a mummy from a 1950s movie, right down to the white taped pants.

It might have been tricky to spend the night wrapped in tape, but Openshaw and Martin had a backup plan.

Although the contest rules require that they wear the outfits to the prom and have their picture taken there, the two brought along a change of more traditional prom attire.

Openshaw was adamant that she wasn’t wearing duct tape the whole night.

"I want to be able to do things like dance and sit down," she said.

Via Bangor Daily News

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