Eve Hamm's newsworthy dress-up

This past month, Eve Ham, a first-year student in the design program in the College of Fine Arts, completed a project that really captured The Tartan’s attention — and captured attention for The Tartan! In an interview with the Tartan, Ham discussed her recent work on a dress made out of Tartan newspapers as well as her future in design.

The Tartan: "It’s great to meet you! Could you tell me a little about this dress? Was it made as a project?"
Ham: "Yeah, so I'm in a photo design class, and I've never done anything photography-related before this year. I got really excited when I realized it was something that I really liked. As a result, I wanted to apply to some over the summer internships and didn't really have a portfolio to do that because I haven't been doing it for very long. I decided to use some of my assignments for the photo design course as a way to build my photography resume. That assignment in particular was to take one object and make it look super classy and expensive, but also make it look super trashy and cheap, so I was like, 'Oh my gosh what's free — newspapers!' Because I already have a really big background in fashion design and dressmaking, I decided that focusing on the aspect of a dress made out of newspaper for my trashy aspect would be something that would be really fun for me to do for that assignment. For my final assignment I just took a bunch more pictures of it because I felt like I spent way too much time on it for it to just get rushed — I didn't have as much time to plan out the shoot as I wanted to the first time."

The Tartan: "Could you walk us through the process of making the dress?"
Ham: "Sure. Newspaper is a material that goes very static against the body, so I wanted to make sure there was something that was going to be pushing it out as much as possible. I don't know if you've ever held a newspaper in the wind and the way it just goes directly against you, but I was thinking, “It is going to be impossible for [the model] to walk if I don't figure this out. So basically what I did is I took the length of my model's waist to the floor and I used it as the length of the skirt and I cut out a large circle with enough space for her waist in the middle. I actually started out crumpling up a bunch of newspaper and putting it to be the first bottom layer. After trying to mold it to one of my friends who was about the same height as her, I realized that it was still collapsing in on itself, so I then I put it back down and I actually ended up folding about fifty percent of it underneath itself to add more structure for the ruffles and then taping that down and adding the other two ruffles over it, which is how it got that big poofy shape because it's basically a lot of layers of newspaper folded underneath each other under a dress. There's actually an entire ruler that I taped in there somewhere, and we just never found it."

The Tartan: "That’s really funny. What was the process of putting the dress on a model like?"
Ham: "There was just so much tape involved. The bodice and the dress were two separate pieces, so the waistline of the dress was reinforced with a lot of tape. I purposefully made it bigger than my model's waist so we could just layer it over and tape it and it wouldn't be open in the back. Most of the sash and bow maneuver was there to hide the seam. The bodice pattern was something that we end up having to tape directly onto her. I think there was one point where I had to photoshop [tape] out on her back because there was a piece of masking tape on her back … she was just popping out of it by the end. Who would have thought a newspaper dress is not the most functional thing in the world? It made a lot of my friends who do civil engineering kinda mad because they were like, 'There's no way it should be able to support that much weight, it's too flimsy,' but I was like, 'Actually I have masking tape so I'll check back to you on that.' Sadly the dress has been recycled since the last shoot. It was raining last night and it just melted."

The Tartan: "That’s too bad! One of the coolest parts of the dress is this big bow on the back. How did you go about that part?"
Ham: "Originally there was a lot of tape on the back of the dress that I wanted to cover. Because it was supposed to be more of an art piece than an actual wearable dress, I was inspired by a lot of classic high fashion or haute couture dresses that seek to have the same goal of not necessarily being something that's ready to wear, but more a piece of art that you can look at and also coincidentally wear. I remember in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Marylin Monroe has this iconic pink dress with this gigantic bow on the back, and that was what I was thinking of. Everybody wanted to copy that dress after it was made and it just became such a symbol of haute couture and ridiculous gaudy, over-the-top fashion. That's kind of what I was going for."

The Tartan: "I think you definitely nailed it. I was really curious to know whether or not you read any of the Tartans while you were working. Were all of the papers on the dress Tartans?"
Ham: "They were all Tartans! I read a lot of Tartans in the process! There was a point where I was taping — for the bottom circle piece I had to tape together two entire newspapers flat just to cut the circle out - and I was reading a bunch of the articles. I read so many of them. A lot of my studio actually thinks that one article where the kids are becoming stupider and it's the fault of adults was really funny. We had a good laugh with that one."

The Tartan: "We’re so glad. More generally, where do you see this project and projects like this taking you in the future?"
Ham: "I really have always loved fashion, I sewed my own prom dress and have been sewing my own clothes for a very long time. Fashion design was never something I could see myself doing, so I thought, 'Why not go for general design?' Getting introduced to photography helped me solidify those goals - just doing art or creative directing for fashion companies. Fashion photography is something I'm very interested in. I’m doing freelance photography for a lot of groups on campus right now, like I took photos for Tri Delt’s formal. I'm gonna see where this takes me and hopefully i get where I’d like to be, but I'm also very happy with this. "

"I think photo design is really interesting - it was really nice to see that there was more that you could do with communications design specifically, ways to communicate things in general - go past simple graphic design or typography. It made me realize that this is what I want to do - this class specifically made me realize this is something I could definitely see myself doing for the rest of my life, like I really really enjoy this. Honestly this was a very fun project and I'm very glad that you guys picked up on it, I was really worried that you wouldn't at first. I'm really glad you guys found it."

And the Tartan's glad we found it too! Ham’s project highlighted the intrinsic beauty in simple objects and the power of good design in physical construction. Accompanying this interview are the photos Ham shot for her assignment.