A little piece of Texas will be with Rin Heise at her senior prom.
And California, and parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well.
Heise’s dress is handmade from 1978 National Geographic maps, stitched together by glue.
“It’s my last hurrah,” Heise said. “I haven’t been going to any other dances this year, and for prom, I’m going in this dress.”
The gown is quite the sight, especially for those who love to travel.
The maps were taken from old National Geographic magazines and cut and glued together. On the back of the map pieces, creating an extra strengthening layer, are pages from Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
“It’s a montage of graduating and moving on,” said Lois Fischer, Heise’s mother and head seamstress. “They will be going great places and doing great things.”
Conveying such a message through formal wear isn’t easy.
After all, there are no patterns for a such a dress. No yards of maps in the fabric store.
So the pair learned through trial and error.
The dress had to be flexible and short enough to dance and sit in without tearing it. The smooth paper needed to stay up with straps.
The gown had to make a statement.
The Baxter residents cut some dull brown paper as a prototype.
A few inches off the bottom for more flexibility and they were ready to cut the maps.
The pair started Friday, April 19, but it took a lot longer than they thought. Each dress flap alone takes about an hour to perfect.
The bottom half hangs near Heise’s knees, with a brown string to tighten the pages around her waist. Flaps a few inches wide hang from the skirt’s sides and back, reaching toward her ankles. A halter top is held up by straps. The creation is topped off with a sash, cutting across the width of the gown.
“It’s a little piece of art work,” Fischer said.
The older maps are perfect, Heise said. The plastic-feel adds a gloss and extra strength.
Fischer is even creating a tie from the maps for Heise’s date.
The dress is a happy ending for the Brainerd High School senior, who wasn’t sure if she’d go to the dance.
Heise didn’t want to go to the prom if she couldn’t outdo last year’s dress — a beautiful peacock feather, flowing gown that stole the show.
That’s when Fischer, an artist by trade, knew she had to help.
Duct tape wear has been done. Candy wrappers would take too long to accumulate.
But maps, dusty and mute toned, now those are art.
“It’s great to take something you look at every day and make it into something new,” Fischer said. “Something ordinary can be very beautiful.”
Both love traveling. Between the two, their list of future trips include France, Germany, India and China.
For now, though, their travels are alive in Heise’s prom dress.
It took seven maps and two Dr. Seuss books, but the mother-daughter duo finally created their perfect art masterpiece.