Making Art Out of Thousands of Pieces of Duct Tape

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017

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Like many duct tape crafters, Kerry Mott started using the sticky fix-it to make handbags in high school. Eventually the bags became more and more elaborate and she started wondering if that everyday fuse could be elevated into a “tactile medium for art.” 

Mott developed a style she describes as “duct tape pointillism.” “I carefully cut very small pieces of duct tape and layer them on top and alongside each other until they form a greater, recognizable whole,” she explains. “It’s quite a time-consuming — sometimes hundreds of hours per piece — and delicate process, but yields stunning results.” Those results are getting a lot of recognition in The Craftys Awards, with several of the artist's works nominated in the Duct Tape category.

Part of what draws her to working with duct tape is the tactile nature of the material. She also likes using a traditional household item in a non-traditional way. Perhaps this innovative approach could only come from someone who wasn’t trained as an artist. Mott, from Gettysburg, PA, studied neuroscience and behavior at Mount Holyoke College. 

 “Clearly not art,” she notes. “But while I strongly considered Medical School, my heart was elsewhere.” Soon after graduation, she began making and selling her duct tape work.

duct tape painting by kerry mott
She uses her Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, surroundings as inspiration. One of the works nominated for The Craftys Awards, "Trees in Bloom," is based on her backyard. “It was fall when I made it, and I had never done a landscape piece with foliage before,” says Mott. 

To begin a work, she creates a sketch planning out the tape colors she’ll use. Choosing colors is actually the trickiest part. “Duct tape usually only has two shades per color. As a result, I must get pretty creative with my use of colors. This is also where my mistakes come in. While I have a basic plan of what colors to use before I start taping, I am constantly changing/redoing shades.”

"Trees in Bloom" required a lot of experimentation, she says, and a lot of patience. Mott’s work has found recognition in art circles and beyond. She received seventh place in Michigan’s ArtPrize and received three People’s Choice Awards. She's also the rare artist whose work is featured in a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" museum.

The Craftys Duct Tape category is sponsored by ShurTech Duck Tape.

See Kerry Mott work on her paintings in The Craftys' profile of her.

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