After struggling with traditional schooling, a Paradise Creek Regional High School student has used a lifelong interest in fashion to produce a unique senior project symbolizing the rebirth of her academic career.

With the help of her mentor, a University of Idaho professor, 17-year-old Kandyss Hanset designed, dyed and constructed a skirt and matching shirt from scratch bearing a complex, twisting pattern of reds and yellows inspired by her school’s mascot — the phoenix.

Hanset said she has always had an enthusiasm for fashion, and when it came time to start her senior project, studying textile and design was the obvious choice. She said her personal style has always been a way to express herself.

“I’ll wake up in the morning and my closet is full of totally random pieces that I just put together with whatever I want,” Hanset said. “After realizing how expensive clothing is, I started going to Goodwill, and at Goodwill I would buy all the thrifting pieces and then tailor them to my size or change them into something completely different.”

Hanset said her penchant for altering and “up-cycling” thrift store clothing has led her to a passion for bringing sustainability to a pollution-heavy industry.

Having altered her own clothes before, Hanset said she chose to challenge herself for this project by creating a garment from fresh fabric. Because she already had experience sewing, actually constructing the garment was more familiar task, Hanset said.

She said creating the patterned textile through a process called marbling took most of the time. Hanset’s mentor, professor Sonya Meyer with the UI’s School of Family and Consumer Sciences, described the marbling process as gently laying the garment over a thin pattern of paint that sits atop a thick cellulose solution.

Meyer said the technique is sometimes difficult to execute properly, calling it “a combination of art and science.” Hanset said she chose the complicated pattern in part to represent her school and her own transformation.

“There’s one painting in the school and it says, ‘We rise from our ashes,’ and that really just hit me because (before moving to Moscow), I was not a good student,” she said. “Then I got here and I realized I’m super good at school — and I always knew it, but I actually applied myself and I rose from my ashes and I made something of myself. I got a 4.0 GPA last quarter.”

Paradise Creek Principal Brian Smith said Hanset also produced an accompanying research paper describing the link between the fashion movement in the 1920s and the women’s rights movements of the time. Smith said students, parents and community members were invited to her final presentation, which he described as “pretty overwhelming.”

“She of course wore the dress, had photos and defined notes about her experience working through this process,” Smith said. “It was pretty miraculous at the end to see the dress and all the work that she’d gone through to learn about this passion that’s now driving her to a diploma and beyond.”

“She’s on fire,” said Meyer, noting Hanset is now taking an introductory textiles class through the UI for college credit. “She’s an amazing young woman and I just I can’t wait to see how she just grows and develops and becomes more proficient in this area, because she does have the talent.”

Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to sjackson@dnews.com.

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