DUNEDIN, Fla. — Dacota Maphis pushes the blade of a utility knife out of its handle, plunges it into a bowl-shaped piece of painted Styrofoam, and inserts a flattened aluminum plate into the new opening.

With this, she grants new life to those one-use items in our lives.

  • Wearable Art 14 Fashion Show hits runway August 25
  • Fashion show is DFAC's largest fundraiser.
  • Want more information? Visit their event page

For Maphis, wearable art is all about taking existing materials, re-purposing them and turning them high fashion, using, according to her: "A lot of tape hot glue and love."

The designer is in the final stretch, wrapping up her costumes for "Wearable Art 14 Fashion Show and Celebration" at the Dunedin Fine Art Center.

It’s her third year taking part in the Center’s biggest event/fundraiser of the year. Close to 1,000 people are expected to take part in the festivities.

Re-purposing found items

The materials for the costumes can be anything, but Maphis, like many other designers for this show, is into re-purposing “found items.”

"I think that a lot of really cool materials that can be reused in a lot of ways," explained Maphis.

"My design this year is called 'Urban Play,’” explained Maphis, holding up a pair of pants made from shredded cardboard, foam, paint and jean material.

Each costume is a character in her city world.

The pants belong to a soldier who represents authority.

There are court jesters, who bring joy to the drudgery of life.

The Joy of Art

Finally, there is a king and a queen, representing the go-getters in her costumed cosmos.

The regal materials for the royal clothes?

They came from the floor of Maphis’ home studio, a tangled mix between a crafter's castoffs and a home's recycling bin.

The skirt's formal fringe? Used canvases.

The regal rows with little dangling pieces of metal are belts, past their prime!

And the silver and gold of the sleeves are recycled tulle and foam mat pieces.

The reigning idea behind Maphis’s designs?

"The joy of art mostly," she said. "The joy of art!"

"Wearable Art 14" hits the runway at the Dunedin Fine Arts Center Saturday, August 25.