Every year Carroll creatives from across the county stock up on glue, paint and marshmallow treats to participate in the Carroll Arts Center's annual PEEPshow. As registration opens for artists to submit their Peep creations, the Arts Center held a seminar Thursday to promote the trading of tips and discussion of artistic methods.
The seminar was hosted by Rob Mondor, who has entered PEEPshow-winning sculptures, some of the most iconic in the program's history. Over the past several years Rob and his family have created Peep sculptures inspired by Disney cartoons, Carroll County history and Sesame Street. Two of Mondor's creations, a life-sized Big Bird sculpture and a life-sized Goofy, were displayed at the headquarters of Just Born, which makes Peeps, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
On Thursday, Mondor, a Maryland State Police trooper, created a slide show of tips and tricks to creating an effective and structurally sound marshmallow sculpture.
About 30 amateur and expert creators showed up Thursday night to learn secrets from one of the masters of the Peeps form.
Christian Twamley, of Sykesville, said he attended the seminar just to get an idea of how other people plan out their final sculptures. Twamley, a five-time entrant of the PEEPshow, said that while the execution is important, it's the initial concept that makes a truly memorable piece.
"It's crucial that you have that great initial idea," Twamley said. "I wanted to see how other people go about planning what they will eventually build."
Mondor's seminar covered every step of the Peep sculpture-making process, from initial concept, through the wood and foam base, all the way to the final piece and transportation. As Mondor described his challenges and successes, members of the audience asked questions and offered their own ideas to make a truly great Peep piece.
Mondor recommended that Peep sculptors have hot glue, spray foam, sanding blocks, scissors and drywall saws on hand for elaborate pieces. Advanced tips included using a lighter to burn off strands of hot glue left over from affixing the Peeps to their final location, dipping scissors in water to avoid sticky situations and subscribing to the Just Born mailing list to find out when different-colored Peeps go on sale to stock up for the next year.
Mondor said he has more than 10 cases of Peeps stored away in his basement for use in the PEEPshow, while others said they chase after every color Peep after each major holiday.
Alaina Klunk, 12, of Hanover, Pennsylvania, entered a Peep sculpture based on Minecraft last year. She said she was most interested in learning tips on how to paint the Peeps without damaging them. Mondor recommended using edible cake paint instead of spray paint, which can eat through the Peeps. Someone in the crowd recommended using a combination of water and food coloring for small touch-ups.
Mondor said he's not interested in fame, and he hopes that the quality of the Peep sculptures brings out support for the Carroll Arts Center.
"When I get it through the door here, I've won," Mondor said. "The PEEPshow is important because it raises money for the programming here. Gives kids a chance to act or sing or go to summer camps. To me, that's what it's all about."
To register for the PEEPshow:
The deadline to register for the PEEPshow is March 11, while marshmallow artists can drop off their masterpieces between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, March 19 and Monday, March 21, and between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday March 22. Registration is $10.
The PEEPshow runs from March 25 to April 6.