Duct Tape Moves From Toolbox to Craft Studio

Duct tape is no longer just an ordinary household staple for fixing leaky pipes and broken chair legs. These days, crafters have been plucking the tape out of toolboxes or buying it at crafts stores to create everything from wallets and guitar straps to wedding bouquets and prom dresses. But why duct tape?

Duck Brand has further driven attention to duct-tape crafts — and itself — with a series of well-publicized contests, including its annual Stuck at Prom competition, where winners earn scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Two contestants in the 2012 prom 2012 were Kelli Harrod and Daniel McIlduff. During Harrod’s senior year, she spent a month designing a bright yellow, one-shoulder cocktail dress with ruffles and colorful flowers, while her boyfriend, McIlduff, made his bright yellow vest and black tuxedo. Everything in their outfit, including her shoes, was made of duct tape.Social media outlets such as Instagram and Pinterest, both of which launched in 2010 as virtual places to share photos, have accelerated the trend. They created a new outlet for showing off quirky, Do-It-Yourself duct tape crafts, in a particularly public way. That challenged viewers to try similar projects and even one-up each other.

On prom night, after wearing their attire the whole evening, they were relieved to be tape free.

“It was really hot,” said Harrod, now a freshman at Wittenberg University in Ohio. “The duct tape traps all the body heat. It’s very uncomfortable. It’s like wearing plastic.”

This April, Duck Brand opened a pop-up shop in New York City’s fashion district for 12 days to showcase its latest wares. The storefront displayed five intricate prom dresses made entirely out of duct tape, replicas of gowns worn on the reality TV show Project Runway. Customers at the ephemeral shop ranged from adults who needed to repair busted wallets to schoolgirls who needed to restock their inventory to keep their duct tape businesses flourishing.

Sydney Minor, 9, was among them. “I make rose pens, wallets, bookmarks and bags, flip flops, and I sell them at school,” said Minor, a fourth grader from New York City, who has been a duct tape entrepreneur since last fall. As she dug through rolls of vividly colored options and settled on flying pigs and peace signs, she added, “Sales are good because lately a lot of kids have been getting into duct tape at my school.”

Already this year, she’s earned $55, selling 15 rose pens, eight wallets and seven card holders for $1 each and 10 bookmarks for 25 cents each.

“I know this doesn’t add up to $55,” said her entertained father, Scott Minor, “but some generous relatives have let her ‘keep the change.’”

Determined to increase her sales this summer, Minor – like any good entrepreneur – is adding another component to her business: a lemonade stand.