Student’s creativity real page-turner

Bahlee Ellis in her handmade Wearable Arts dress, made out of around 40 The Weekend Sun newspapers. Photos: Brydie Thompson.

Mount Maunganui Intermediate student Bahlee Ellis lost count of how many copies of The Weekend Sun newspaper she used for her Wearable Arts outfit.

The 12-year-old attended Showquest, where she competed in the Wearable Arts competition at Baypark on Monday, June 10. She won the Most Innovative Use of Materials Award.

“I was pretty proud of it,” says Bahlee.

This is her second time entering the event and the second time she’s received the Most Innovative Use of Materials Award. Her first entry, ‘Drowning in the Blue’, was made from a second-hand dress and ocean litter. “They thought it was amazing. Everyone thought I was going to win, and they were really angry when I didn’t.”

This year her wearable art project used about 400 pages of The Sun and took two months to complete. “I really enjoyed it. It makes me happy because I like doing art.”

When asked if she wants to be in fashion when she’s older, she says: “Yes, I have wanted to be since I was little”.”I was creating dresses for my dolls when I was little.”

At the Showquest event, Bahlee represented her school, which she is proud of because she received lots of support from her teachers and peers. “Loads, actually.”

She got to the event at about 11am. “Everyone was getting dressed and doing their makeup. Then we got photoshoots. At 1pm, we had a briefing, and then at 1.30pm we had a dress rehearsal. Then at 5pm we had dinner, and we were on stage at about 9pm.”

Bahlee enjoyed the modelling side of the show, where she walked down the catwalk in her outfit she named ‘The Latest Print’. “It was so colourful this year.”

The wearable arts project had to be at least 75 per cent recycled. “I went op shopping with my mum Sandra,” says Baylee. “I got a huge roll of black fabric and then we got a dress pattern.

“The whole top is made from The Weekend Sun newspapers and with the fabric, we made these little tubes and stapled them on.”

Bahlee made fans out of the newspapers, which she layered onto the outfit.

“They go all the way down the train, and then there are tubes across the shirt. We made the shirt with a dress pattern, and it goes all the way around, and then at the back, we tied it up with shoelaces like a corset.

“I wanted it to be big and puffy, like a Disney princess.”

To achieve the “puffy” look, Bahlee used a tutu for half of it: “It looks really cool.”

Besides the dress, Bahlee also made accessories, including a bow, sunglasses, shoes and an umbrella.

“My auntie entered wearable arts when she was 13 and she won it. She made an umbrella out of Lotto tickets. I took inspo [inspiration] for the umbrella from there.”

On the umbrella, she painted words in red and green in a form of activism. “My Hungahungatoroa marae at Matapihi is getting moved to higher grounds because of air pollution and global warming.

“That’s why we included the [The Weekend Sun] logos on the umbrella.”

Bahlee’s mum helped her make the dress, and when asked if Sandra was into fashion, she jokes: “I think she is after this”.

Bahlee will receive her Most Innovative Use of Materials award at her school’s assembly today, June 14.

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