Tammy Allen will wear a full-length ball gown.
Cherise Lukacs plans to go a little shorter — a ruffly cocktail dress with a bodice and high-heeled boots.
And Joe Marshall? Well, he plans to be fully decked out as a Samurai, complete with helmet, leg guards and a sword.
There’s a common thread to all these outfits — each is handmade using cardboard as the primary material.
Blame the Cardboard Ball. The brainchild of artist Mykl Wells, Saturday’s ball will be a fundraiser for the workshops leading up to the All Souls Procession on Nov. 3. Wells leads free workshops, guiding participants on how to make masks, lanterns and even floats for the procession.
This is the first year the Cardboard Ball fundraiser has supported the workshops, but the second year Wells has held it.
Last year, Wells, whose media include cardboard, was invited to attend an international cardboard art competition in Italy. But he’s an artist — the kind of money he would need to ship off to Italy to make art isn’t in his back pocket.
Imagination is a wonderful thing: He created the Cardboard Ball, asked his friends to make outfits or art of cardboard or other repurposed material, and come to a party to help him raise the necessary funds.
“It was homegrown, good, old-fashioned, funky goodness,” recalls Wells of the event and the outpouring of support; he raised enough money to spend two months in Italy. And he won the competition.
“It was the support that I got from the community that made it possible,” he says. “It was such a good fundraiser, I thought it would be good to keep it alive.”
He directs the workshops leading up to the procession and thought raising money for materials was an ideal cause.
“We need things like materials and rent for the space,” says Wells. “So we are trying to raise a little money, and celebrate creativity, imagination and playfulness.”
The family affair will take place at the Steinfeld Warehouse. There will be music, dancing and lots to look at — those cardboard costumes for one. And cardboard art for those who are not inclined to whip together something to wear.
That would not include Allen, who has dubbed her gown a “Tim Burton hoop skirt.” Using cardboard gleaned from cereal boxes and soda and beer cartons, she created a series of circles to surround her body. They are held together and connected with binder rings. She slips that over black leggings and a black shirt, puts on a pair of triangle earrings cut from credit cards, tucks a cardboard flower behind her ear, and she’s ready for her ball.
Allen, a regular participant in the All Souls Procession, attended last year’s ball. She had no intention of missing it this year.
“Everyone should come,” she says. “It’s really fun. Put on a box and draw a dress on it if you don’t want to make something.”
Lukas, too, attended last year’s ball and plans to go this year. And she’s ready for it: She even made high-heeled cardboard boots. “I love them,” she says.
She can take elegant strides in them, and when she walks the folded layers of newspaper that she used for her full skirt rustle in tune.
Marshall, who teaches printing at The Drawing Studio, spent about 100 hours creating his cardboard samurai armor, embossed with colorful prints of tigers (he was born in the year of the tiger, he explains). He researched the armor and replicated it down to the kusazuri, which hang from the back and the front of the chest armor to protect the legs.
He created his own oni mask to cover his mouth, too. Onis are Japanese demons — he has drawn a fierce-looking smile that reveals sharp teeth. It’s intended to intimidate the samurai’s opponents, he explains with what we think is a grin behind the mask.
Wells is a little overwhelmed these days. He’s planning for the workshops, preparing for a couple of art exhibits not connected with the All Souls Procession, and trying to make art.
Still, he’s almost giddy with the buzz the ball, which will include an art auction, is making.
“It’s been a phenomenal response so far,” he says, noting that almost half of the 300 tickets for the ball have been sold.
“We have over 30 artists participating who have made works out of cardboard or repurposed materials. I haven’t seen much, but glimpses I have seen are pretty exciting.”