NEW YORK – Artists, designers and anyone with a wacky sense of humor have become, uh, stuck on a new obsession — duct tape.
It's a sticky situation for sure. But hard as it is to believe, the lazy man’s favorite tool for fixing everything from leaky hoses to jiggly doorknobs has morphed into prom wear, wedding dress material and even a sculpting medium.
"I am actually now a professional duct tape artist," proclaimed Todd Scott, 28, who has a master's in biology and geography from the University of Winnepeg. "It’s a hobby that has become a career. I wake up every morning and I just start laughing."
His creations include a life-size sculpture of Babe Ruth, a duct tape jacket for Henry Winkler (aka, The Fonz), an 8 ½- foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex, and a matching kilt and vest set he wears to the many duct tape events he attends.
Sure, it's not so breathable. "But with a kilt, you have a nice little draft from down below," Scott said.
The duct tape movement, if you will, can be traced to 1995, when Tim Nyberg and Jim Berg wrote The Duct Tape Book, the first in a series of four paperback tomes about unconventional uses for the tape. The Duct Tape Guys, as the two brothers-in-law call themselves, tapped into a reserve of duct tape enthusiasts.
Their Web site, www.ducttapeguys.com, is evidence of the duct tape movement's reach. The site is chock full of trivia as well as links to fans sites from all over the country.
Duct Tape Fashion
A rainbow of new colors of duct tape, from camouflage to Day-Glo, has fueled a fashion trend. Thanks to the variety of hues, duct tape enthusiasts are getting decked out in everything from bikinis to Hawaiian shirts, to shoes, top hats, dresses, jackets and more.
One designer, Emilie Autumn, features a $300 three-piece duct tape suit, a $150 dress and a variety of silver accessories on her Web site, www.fancydeluxe.com.
"If people think of duct tape clothing without seeing it, they think it would be wrinkled up and wadded up," said Autumn. "But when done correctly it looks just like leather."
The 28-year-old Californian began using the tape in fashion shows a couple of years ago. "At first it was for people's amusement," she said. "But people are starting to take it more seriously."
And this year Manco, the company that produces Duck brand duct tape, sponsored a contest in which it offered a $2,500 scholarship to the couple who made and wore the most creative duct tape suit and dress to their high-school prom.
"We've been bombarded [with entries]," said Gary Medalis, vice president of communications for Manco. "One couple did all red and blue duct tape. And the guy dyed his hair blue."
Some couples included pictures of their dogs in duct tape outfits and even their cars covered in it, said Medalis. "They know no boundaries, which is great because duct tape doesn't come with any instructions."
Here Comes the Bride
The biggest event is yet to come. This September, Joyce Lotta and Kevin Thomas will take their wedding vows wearing a duct tape wedding dress and tuxedo, exchange duct tape rings, walk down a silver duct tape carpet and even display, if not taste, an elaborate duct tape cake.
Lotta and Thomas were chosen from throngs of couples who applied for the all-expenses paid wedding, which also includes a honeymoon in Hawaii, sponsored by Manco. "They submitted a video telling why their marriage would be like duct tape," said Manco's Valerie Stump. "You can tell they have a really strong bond."
The bride will wear white, the groom will don royal blue and silver and the ceremony will take place outside Universal Studios in Los Angeles. "We want to keep the class of the wedding," said Stump. "They're having fun with it. Their family can't wait."