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Lesson learned from our DIY Create a Newsprint Masterpiece contest? Never underestimate a teenager.

We asked readers to get creative and make something out of newsprint. An assortment of entries blew in on the wind in time for the Sept. 23 deadline, and our panel of judges selected three winners — and found, upon contacting them, that all were teenagers. (Only one of the three had indicated her age in her entry.)

Two made newspaper dresses, one made a whimsical diorama; all three entries were beautifully crafted and thoroughly charming. Way to go, girls — and many thanks to all who entered and made the judges’ decision a difficult one.

Our winners shared $200 in gift cards from Paper Delights in Wallingford. Let’s meet them, and their winning entries.

Esther Choi

Sixteen-year-old Esther Choi, a high-school junior living in Bellevue, looked to her heritage for inspiration. A native of South Korea, she moved here with her family three and a half years ago, and remembered playing a traditional Korean game that involved folding paper into shapes. When she heard about The Seattle Times DIY contest at school, she thought of those shapes — and how they might look on a sculpturelike dress.

“I was watching out of my window, and the wind was blowing and the leaves falling down,” she said, “so I kind of wanted to make the leaf shape out of newspapers.”

With “maybe 150” of the folded shapes glued to a newspaper base and overlapping — “I wanted it fluttery” — the result is an intricately textured work of art.

And, if you look closely, it tells a story: wanting to incorporate memories of her life, Esther used copies of not just The Seattle Times but also a Korean newspaper and her high-school paper.

Though Esther had never made a dress before, she’s fascinated by fashion (designers Rick Owens and Issey Miyake are favorites, for their “really modern” aesthetics) and hopes to eventually attend design school. Her next project: a dress made of overlapping layers of wax. And, soon, she’d like to learn to sew. Sounds like the sky’s the limit.


Annie Harris of Bellevue, a runner-up, created a diorama of a bathroom reader — complete with fringe on the towel, striped wallpaper and crossword-square “tile” on the floor.

Annie Harris

For Annie Harris, it all began with the crossword puzzle. “It reminded me of bathroom tile,” she said. And so began “Alone Time,” Annie’s small, intricate diorama of a man in a bathroom, reading his Seattle Times.

The crossword squares became a tile floor and a border for the mirror; different colors of newsprint became a striped-wallpaper wall; the man was shaped from twist-ties wrapped in newspapers, with his tiny Times made in Photoshop. (Note the minuscule Peanuts comic strip.)

Annie, a 15-year-old ninth-grader from Bellevue, said the sculpture only took her a couple of days (after abandoning an initial attempt at a “tropical house in the Caribbean”).

Her tools were an X-ACTO knife, a glue stick and a pair of careful hands capable of tiny, finicky detail: the fringe on the towel, the microscopic faucets on the sink. Not surprisingly, art is her favorite subject at school, and she loves to paint and to create sculptures and dioramas. Years ago, her mother remembered, Annie created a ferryboat out of cardboard cartons.

The trickiest part of “Alone Time”? Explaining to her dad that she’d taken the paper before he could get to it. “He loves the crossword puzzle!”

Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times

Anya Davis, 13, of Kirkland, was a runner-up for her entry, a flippy, rosette-adorned cocktail dress.

Anya Davis

Anya Davis, a 13-year-old eighth-grader who lives in Kirkland, loves fashion. “I sketch a lot,” she said, on her visit to The Times. “I do a lot of clothes.” So, when she learned about our contest, she immediately thought of making a cocktail dress from newspaper. “I was thinking Alexander McQueen,” she said, of her style inspiration, “with a structured skirt.”

And so began “a few weeks” of work, using various techniques: giving the dress structure using papier-mâché, folding newspaper around wire and hot-gluing it in place, draping the skirt over a yoga ball to help its shape, creating dozens of little rosettes and gluing them to the bodice. (“I love putting flowers on stuff,” she said. “I cover up all my mistakes.”)

The end result is a playful minidress with intricate detail (note the carefully curled tendrils on the skirt). “This is how I imagine my prom dress,” said a proud Anya. (Maybe not quite so short, said her smiling mother.)

Though she dreams “if I could do anything” of being a fashion designer in Milan, Anya said she plans to be an occupational therapist or a special-ed teacher someday. Undoubtedly, a very well-dressed one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or