Functional Fashion: Dominique Cox and duct tape

Written by David Green.

You need to "really understand" duct tapeImage


When Morenci junior Dominique Cox’s cheap, faux-leather watchband snapped two years ago, she figured it would cost more than the watch was worth to replace it. Instead of chucking the watch and resorting to estimating the time from the position of the sun, she pulled out a roll of duct tape and stuck the band back together.

Before long, she found that the duct tape portion of the watchband irritated her skin much less than the faux-leather, so she scrapped the original band and fabricated a new one entirely out of the shiny gray tape.

Then she decided that duct tape would make a good raincoat. Using a slicker that used to belong to her grandfather as a template, she constructed one. It took her about six hours.

“It was an ambitious adventure in taping, to be sure,” says Dominique. But the project didn’t wear her out. Soon after, she completed a hat to match, which she describes as “a cross between a top hat and that hat that Gilligan wore on ‘Gilligan’s Island.’” When she wore the get-up to school one rainy day, she found it kept her dry and warm.

Thus began her affair with duct tape, a tape whose usefulness has won it a place in the hearts of utilitarians across the planet.

Aside from sticking together cracked glasses rims and mending holes in old sneakers, a faction of teenagers have, in recent years, devised a new function for duct tape—fashion.

These days, it’s not uncommon to see at least one or two kids in a given high school sporting shoes completely covered with the stuff, or to see a few book bags with messages spelled out in slender gray strips.

Dominique doesn’t expect the trend to hit the mainstream any time soon. She admits that, a lot of the time, the kids who integrate a lot of duct tape in their wardrobe are the same kids who dress to stand out, or to make a statement. She maintains that she wears her duct tape merely because she likes it.

For a lot of kids, there’s a novelty aspect to duct tape. For instance, Morenci freshman James Wright was hooked when he noticed “Duck” brand duct tape.

“I saw that there was a ‘Duck’ brand, and I thought ‘cool.’ And then I just started making things out of duct tape.”

Fledgling duct-tapers are helped by the fact that “Duck” brand tape also happens to be one of the best brands, at least according to the aficionados.

“Off-brand tapes have inferior glues and lesser thread counts than ‘Duck,’” says Dominique. “3M also has a nice tape.”

“You see,” says James, “we don’t just like duct tape, we understand it.”

The more the kids started understanding duct tape, the more they started branching out. About a year ago, Dominique started using different colors of duct tape in her creations. Along with the standard silvery sheen, duct tape comes in over twenty colors, including red, white, black, orange, green—even camouflage.

Her first alternately colored project was a camouflage neck tie, and is such an accurate reproduction of a real tie that it betrays the eye even up close.

Dominique also made a multi-colored book bag that doesn’t appear particularly duct tape-ish until she flips it open to reveal its silver insides.

The secret to making duct tape objects that don’t stick to her, says Dominique, is staggering the strips of tape, so that half the tacky side of one strip is stuck to half the tacky side of another. Using the adhesive sides to cancel each other out, duct-tapers can fashion pieces of fabric as big as their projects require.

The trade isn’t without its hazards, though. Long-haired artisans are at constant risk of snagging their locks, and if freeing them isn’t hard enough, washing out the legendarily robust adhesive is.

Dominique decided to abandon one of her more ambitious projects, a stuffed Tigger doll, after she cut her hand with an Xacto knife, which required seven stitches.

Now, she prefers to stick to safety scissors. Besides, she likes the color of them better.

When she unveils her newest creations, the reaction from other students is usually mixed, Dominique says.

“Some think I’m the coolest,” she says. “Some think I’m insane and try not to make eye contact with me.”

It’ll be interesting to see what people think when she unveils the finished version of her latest project—an all duct tape prom dress. She’ll also have her hands full helping James, her date, with an all duct tape tuxedo.

Who knows? If they stick together, maybe they can stick it out.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016