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Peeps Diorama Contest 2009

Peeps Diorama Contest Finalists

With over 1,100 gooey submissions, it was hard to choose a winner. Take a look at the top 40 entries to our third annual Peeps Diorama Contest: They're sweet.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Peeps on Parade

"Chinatown's Lucky Dragon Dancers Perform 'Goodbye Year of the Rat; Hello Year of the Peeples' " by Betty Thompson, Ocean Pines, Md.

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Inspired by a Chinese restaurant on Sixth Street NW and the Chinese New Year festivities -- and by a desire to spice up her "mundane obituary" by winning a spot in at least the semifinals -- Thompson, a 76-year-old master gardener, says, "Last year we were walking through Chinatown, and we ate dinner at this restaurant and I saw all these chickens hanging in the window. I took a pictured and painted it. I just loved the chickens."

Thompson maintains the garden at the Taylor House Museum in Berlin, Md., but says her horticultural skills were of little use during the diorama-making. She relied on photos, crafty materials from Wal-Mart and a history of artistry that runs in her family (her grandmother had her own studio, her aunt was an art teacher and her daughter went to art school).

Note the hand-painted Chinese flag, the Peep stretched into the dragon's head and the roasted Peking Peeps in the window (finely dusted with brown acrylic paint).

What's the appeal of a Peeps diorama? Why invest so much energy into something so strange?

"I don't know," Thompson says. "It's just so silly. I have a real strong silly streak and I just think it's so amusing. You can't help but like it."

Peeps Go Graphical

"M.C. Escher's 'RelativiPeep' " by Mark Rivetti, Silver Spring.

The diorama harnesses the multicolored dynamism of Peeps in the labyrinthine black-and-white geometry of Escher's original 1953 lithograph "Relativity," which depicts a mind-bending scene of gravity-defying staircases. It is perhaps the most conceptually ambitious of this year's entries: "RelativiPeep" is roughly 2 1/2 feet tall and had to be built in proportion to the Peeps, which take the place of Escher's faceless, stair-climbing humanoids.

"The most important part of the model was building it to the scale of the bunny," says Rivetti, 25, an architect, who spent 30 hours over several weeks planning and building the outsize diorama. Rivetti took a cue from a Lego version of "Relativity" that he saw online, but decided to keep the background design in black and white while letting the Peeps' colors provide the necessary un-Escher-like pop.

"I wanted to go for something complex enough to win," says Rivetti, who's no stranger to the contest. He made it to the semifinals last year with an unconventional reinterpretation of the famous Woodstock poster. To see it, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/peeps.


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