FINKSBURG — A marshmallow Peep is an impermanent thing. Be it eaten, melted in the sun or blown up in the microwave, the sugary confection is designed not to last.
Friday, however, in celebration of the record-breaking funds raised in this year's PEEPshow, Sandy Oxx, director of the Carroll County Arts Council, put her wrist under the tattoo needle for a permanent Peep memento.
Every year since 2008, the Carroll County Arts Council holds the PEEPshow, an exhibit and fundraiser featuring pieces of art fashioned out of and inspired by Just Born Inc.'s marshmallow Peeps candies, from sculptures to paintings to short films.
Over the past several years, the PEEPshow has supplanted the Festival of Wreaths as the Carroll Arts Center's main fundraiser, with the money being raised increasing every year.
Two years ago, Oxx made a deal with the members of the arts council and with the public: If the organization was able to raise more than $50,000 from voting chips, concessions and merchandise sales, she would get a Peep tattooed somewhere on her body. She said she was inspired by teachers who promise to kiss pigs or shave their heads for their students, and to her, two years ago, breaking $50,000 seemed like a pipe dream.
This year, the arts center blew past the $50,000 goal, grossing more than $75,000 from more than 27,000 visitors, and netting $59,000 over the weeklong event. She was on the hook.
Oxx made her appointment at Little Vinnie's Tattoos in Finksburg after seeing examples of the parlor's work in the news.
"I read a story about them tattooing women who had had mastectomies," Oxx said. "I figured if they could do a nipple, they can do a Peep."
In order to choose the image for tattooing, Oxx used a sticker featured on a thank-you card sent to her by Sydney Blacksten, the artist who created the first runner-up "Left Shark" Peep sculpture at this year's event. The "Left Shark" Peep gained national attention, being featured in the Huffington Post and websites for Time and People magazines.
This sticker was transcribed by tattoo artist Ian Efrom, who scaled the image down to fit on Oxx's wrist. This was Efrom's first attempt at doing a Peeps tattoo. He said earlier in the day he had worked on a large tree, and the Peep was a simple change of pace.
"It's a pretty easy design to do," Oxx said. "That's what makes Peeps so special. They're just blobs."
Oxx said she chose the wrist because she wanted a tattoo that was easy to show off — without disrobing — for the interested guests at the PEEPshow every year. She was more than happy to do this for the people who have supported the arts center for all of these years.
"It's not a big deal. It's not like I'm giving up a limb. It's not a sacrifice," Oxx said. "It's a dedication to the community, which has done so much for us in the past."
While in the chair waiting for the tattoo, Oxx discussed with Efrom the best yellow to accurately capture the sunshine hues of the marshmallow Peeps — lemon yellow versus banana yellow. Oxx finally settled on the lemon as the purest primary color.
The actual tattooing process was over quickly, in less than 30 minutes. Oxx said she was proud to wear the mark of the Peep.
"It's kind of like childbirth," Oxx said. "It hurts and it's permanent, but it's fun."