Duct tape fashion artist hopes to win scholarship after making dress

Ever since she was 7-years-old, Ava Motl knew she wanted to be a fashion designer.

She never would have guessed that career path would ever involve 23 rolls of duct tape.

"I was hoping for it to turn out well, but I had no idea what my ability actually was," she told FOX 9’s Rob Olson. "Because it’s nothing I’ve ever really done before."

What she did is create a prom dress out of tape that is a homage to Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece painting, "A Starry Night."

And now the 17-year-old from Robbinsdale is one of ten finalists in a national contest with a $10,000 scholarship on the line for the winners.

"Surprisingly, duct tape isn’t that expensive! I was like, oh, no, this isn’t going to cost much at all! What did it cost?  It cost about $75."

The contest, called "Stuck to Prom," is a promotion from Duck Brand tape. Ava’s sister saw the call for entries posted on Instagram, told Ava, who immediately started brainstorming.

Once she finalized her design, based on her love of Van Gogh, she started work in mid-April, logging in about 227 hours in total until the deadline.

"I constantly worked on it for, like every day, until it was like the due date on June 7. I was like ok, todays the day, I have to get it in my midnight, let’s just do it!" she said.

The process involved forming the dresses base out of fabric and paper and coating that with the blue and yellow tape for the basic underlying colors.

Then she painted lengths of tape into different variations of those colors, cut them into strips and layer them on the dress to emulate Van Gogh’s distinctive abstract brush strokes.

"I didn’t know 100% if the paint would actually stick," she said. "So I was like, what if the paint comes off?  And you work on it for hours and then two minutes later it’s just like, gone? And I was like, oh, that would just anger me!"

She found it stuck just fine.

Of the ten finalists, there are five dresses and five tuxes. There will be one winner from each category.

Voting goes through July 12 and you can cast a vote once per day, every day, here

Ava, who’ll be a high school senior this fall, hopes to attend a fashion design college out east after graduation. Win or lose, being a finalist is certainly good for the resume.

She’d, of course, prefer to win and collect the $10,000 scholarship.

"I was so excited, definitely shocked because there was so many good competitors. And I was thinking, wow, now I don’t have to do anything, I just have to get people to vote!"