To look at them, you wouldn't believe Judy Henry's stunning creations were made of four cheap and disposable ingredients: toilet paper, glue, tape, and thread.
But even more extraordinary than the materials that make up the dress is the way Judy Henry became involved with this hobby.
Last year Henry began searching for a way to share her LDS beliefs and somehow make an impact for the better.
"I was looking for a mission of sorts, unique to me, and something I could accomplish at this stage of my life," the 68-year-old Henry shares. "I knew Heavenly Father could think of something so I asked for His help."
The answer came to Henry in a rather unexpected way. One day while she was online, an ad suddenly popped up for the Cheap Chic Weddings Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest hosted by Charmin.
"The idea sounded crazy and there was not much time left to enter, but it intrigued me to the point I couldn't sleep that night," Henry says. So Henry began looking up past contests and couldn't find a dress in the 10 years the contest had been running that had sleeves. In a world where fashion trends so often conflict with LDS standards of modesty, Henry felt that she could contribute a dress that was both chic and modest.
The result was mind-boggling. Of the nearly 1,500 submissions, Henry's dress was one of only 10 chosen to be displayed at a runway show in New York with a panel of judges who would decide the top three.
Judy Henry's daughter Heather Holdaway modeling a dress made out of toilet paper. Images courtesy of Judy Henry.
Though Henry's dress didn't make the final cut, she says, "I had a great deal of satisfaction to learn that a group of young girls in Florida who helped choose the top 10 said my dress was the one they would choose to be married in. It is very gratifying to know there are girls out there who will choose modesty and want to have that option."
Because the challenge is so time-consuming, Henry thought she was done with the competition after the one attempt. "However, ideas kept whirling around in my head interfering with sleep yet again, and I felt pretty much compelled to do another dress," she says.
This year, dressmakers across the country submitted over 1,500 dresses to the competition. Once again, Henry has landed in the top 10 and is excited for the chance to head back to New York.
This time, Henry also had more time to perfect her dress for the contest. Using only glue, toilet paper, and a little thread to reinforce the fasteners, Henry crafted a masterpiece. The base fabric was created by layering strips of toilet paper and a glue solution in alternating directions.
For the lace, she created smaller strips of toilet paper fabric and then twisted each one into yarn. In order to create the pattern, she drew out the design on her counter top and held the yarn in place using packing tape. Once finished, she put another layer of toilet paper and glue over the design then cut it all out by hand using cuticle scissors before attaching it to the dress using glue.
The lace alone took over 80 hours, not to mention the base material, headpiece and wrist bands, and paper mache buttons. But, Henry's painstaking time and patience has certainly paid off, proving that wedding dresses can be beautiful, unique, and still modest.