We recently ran into gifted fiber artist, Ona Paul in Door County, Wisconsin. Ona was demonstrating her duct tape techniques making flowers and purses from duct tape and various materials. You can check out Ona's creativity here and at her web site. And, yes, you can purchase her wares via her web site.
Ona creates her purses out of a variety of materials including chains, springs, rivets, magazine clippings, even electrical cords (see the orange purse below). The primary material used is Duck® brand tape. "I use Duck brand because they have the best color selection."
Read an article about Ona from the Green Bay Press Gazette.
(above) It probably wouldn't be the best idea to bring this one into a bank and set it on the counter. The purse reads, "Hand over the money and no one will get hurt."

July 27, 2004
Tom Perry column: Artist’s work sticks with a niche
Her duct tape purses get national buzz
byTom Perry, Green Bay Press Gazette

Warning: If you prefer to cling to old-fashioned ideas about the uses of duct tape, don’t stick around. After reading this column, you may never think of that handy-dandy adhesive quite the same as before.

That’s because artists like 23-year-old Ona Paul are actually making things out of duct tape and getting a lot of attention while doing so.

Earlier this month in Door County, for example, a nationally known duct-tape expert, author Tim Nyberg of Duct Tape Guy fame, saw hand bags and flowers that Paul made with duct tape.

Within a day, a page on the Internet site www.ducttapeguys.com was featuring photos of Paul and her work, calling her a “gifted fiber artist.’’

Paul was flattered and surprised. But truth be told, back in the late 1990s, when she was going to De Pere High School, she saw duct tape the way most people do.

Her father had an old Volkswagen Beetle, Paul said Monday, “and we used to say that it was being held together with duct tape.’’

After graduating from high school in 1998, Paul attended the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where she majored in fiber arts. While still in college, she started a small business, Ona By Design, making purses called “rag bags.’’

Because more women are turning toward more highly stylized purses and handbags these days, Paul found a niche market for these knitted fabric purses.

At the beginning of the year, however, she began experimenting with knitting with different materials such as plastic.

“But that didn’t work,’’ Paul said. “I found myself going through all my garbage bags, and it just wasn’t working.’’

Eventually, she started working with duct tape, which she is now “treating as fabric. Instead of knitting it, I’m piecing it together like you would a quilt.’’

Paul added, “There’s no sewing involved because it’s sticky. So it just kind of evolved from there.’’

Along the way, she has also begun to use a hardware store as if it were an art supply store. Her purses are created out of chains, springs, rivets and electric cords. (Online see her work at www.geocities.com/ona bydesign.)

When people see Paul’s work, “the one thing they respond to is her imaginative uses of hardware,” said Sue Donahoo, owner of Soo Hoo Art & Artwear, on Wisconsin 42 at the north edge of Ephraim in Door County. A fiber artist herself, Donahoo invited Paul to do a one-day show on July 5 at Soo Hoo Art & Artwear. On that day, as fate would have it, the Duct Tape Guy, Nyberg, just happened to be in the area and read about Paul’s show in a local publication.

Now, only in America — mostly because duct tape is truly an American innovation, developed during World War II — could a couple of guys find fame, if not fortune, by celebrating plastic tape.

The Duct Tape Guys, who have written six books, yes six, on the subject, were “born,’’ as their Web site puts its, on a “cold and dark winter night’’ in —where else — Wisconsin.

Nyberg, who lives in Minnesota, is the brother-in-law of Jim Berg — the other Duct Tape Guy, a resident of Sturgeon Bay who just happens to be a 1982 graduate of Green Bay Southwest High School.

On Christmas Eve 1993, during a power failure in Sister Bay, it was Jim who said, “I bet if I knew where the power failure was, I could fix it with duct tape,’’ according to the biography on the Internet site.

Well, one thing led to another. “We just started brainstorming and that led to the first book,’’ Berg said Monday.

By 1997, Nyberg and Berg were being featured in People magazine. Last fall, their latest book, “The Original Duct Tape Halloween Book’’ may have changed the art of costume design for the rest of the 21st century.

At Henkel Consumer Adhesive in Avon, Ohio, where Duck Tape brand duct tape is made, spokeswoman Valerie Stump describes Nyberg and Berg as “definitely’’ the world’s foremost experts on duct tape.

So for an artist like Ona Paul, who now lives in Oshkosh, to get a tip of the cap from the Duct Tape Guy is something of a coup, especially since she just introduced her duct tape purses in June.

Another benefit: When Duck Tape brand duct tape learned about her artwork, it sent her two-dozen rolls of tape, including colors she hadn’t seen before. (See www.ducktape club.com.)

Stump said that this fall her company plans to distribute duct tape to Michaels’ Crafts Stores nationwide, and consumers will be able to choose from 19 colors.

If that doesn’t make traditionalists get gray at the gills, nothing will.

Call Tom Perry at (920) 4318216 or e-mail him at tperry@greenbaypressgazette.com.