The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 15, 2014

Joplin High School students to model ‘recycled’ dresses at fashion show

Audrey Kaman will walk the runway later this week wearing a dress she designed herself — made out of 250 doilies.

“I’d say it’s a fun dress,” the Joplin High School sophomore said. “It’s not really elegant because it’s short, but it’s cute.”

Nearly 20 dresses will debut on the runway Thursday night during Joplin High School’s second Recycle and Redesign Fashion Show. The dresses have been designed and created entirely from recyclable materials — including paper, plastic grocery bags, facial tissues and straws — by students in the Fashion II class.

“This is to show them that fashion doesn’t necessarily have to come from the store,” instructor Mandi Gash said.

Students began the project in February by conceptualizing and sketching their designs. They sought out recyclables and other throwaway materials from their friends, families and teachers before beginning the lengthy steps of sculpting their dresses.

Kaman said the top of her dress is made of large doilies layered with smaller doilies for extra coverage. The skirt, which she wanted to flare, is made of strings of connected doilies that have been hot-glued together. Some of the white doilies have been painted blue to give the dress an overall snow-and-ice look, she said.

“I didn’t want it to be bulky; I wanted it to be comfortable,” she said of her dress. “I knew that I’d have to have enough (doilies) layered so it wasn’t transparent, and I wanted the layered look to look like snowflakes piled up.”

Kaman said she plans to pair her dress with pointe shoes, which she already owned. Altogether, the dress cost her $18, the price of the doilies, and more than 11 hours of her time.

“I like how it turned out,” she said.

Sophomore Ayana Thomas worked with a classmate to design and create a “vintage,” 1950s-era dress from plastic, Styrofoam, cotton and yarn. With all the materials either donated to them or picked up around their houses, the total cost of the dress amounted to $7, which was the price of the hot glue that holds it all together.

Thomas said finding suitable materials for the dress was the most difficult part of its creation.

“We didn’t want to spend money to buy the materials,” she said. “It was a lot more complicated because we didn’t have a lot of things (to choose from), so we just asked teachers and others for materials.”

Thomas, who spent about 10 total hours putting the dress together with her partner, said the project served as an eye-opener into the realities of waste and recycling.

“I found that a lot of the materials we used just go to waste,” she said. “It made me wonder how we could be more resourceful with our stuff.”

Sophomore Megan Ritter and her partner made plastic grocery bags the “main focus” of their dress, which turned out to be a short, strapless creation with a one-shoulder sash made from scraps of blue fabric. And why plastic bags?

“That’s the No. 1 thing people usually throw out,” she said.

Ritter said turning the grocery bags into a wearable dress was a challenge.

“We didn’t know how to weave the Wal-Mart sacks together, so we made it (the dress) in sections, and then put it together,” she said. “But it was fun to be creative. It actually turned out better than we thought it would.”

With the dress completed, Ritter on Tuesday was making a large snowflake out of a plastic grocery bag for her model to wear in her hair on the night of the fashion show. She said she is convinced that anything can be made out of recyclables.

“You don’t have to waste a bunch of money to buy anything,” she said.

Want to go?

THE RECYCLE AND REDESIGN FASHION SHOW will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Joplin High School campus at Northpark Mall. It is open to the public. Donations will be accepted at the door to help start a recycling program at the new high school, which is scheduled to open in August.

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