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Pick of the Peeps: Peeps dioramas serve up a candy-colored take on pop culture

Our fourth annual Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest drew more than 1,100 sugar-inspired entries. See the winner -- a candy-colored take on the movie "Up" -- and 37 of our favorites.

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by MaryLea Harris, 34, Fairfax

"As a child, I read 'Goodnight Moon' with my mom as a bedtime story, and when I had my own daughter, it was one of the first books I bought," says Harris, a former elementary school art teacher. The blogger and stay-at-home mom reached the semifinal round in the 2008 Peeps contest with a diorama inspired by "Sesame Street," and she chose another family-friendly theme this time with Margaret Wise Brown's beloved children's tale.

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Harris got a late start, but she pulled her diorama together over the course of a Saturday afternoon. "Being the crafty person that I am, I actually had everything in my house to build the diorama, minus the dollhouse fireplace and the rocking chair. I don't know if that's neat, or scary," she says, laughing.

"I wanted everything in there that was in the original book, so I got out my daughter's copy, but I basically had it all memorized," Harris says. "The most interesting part was asking the questions like: How do you make a lampshade? What can I use for a balloon? ... I liked thinking outside the box and trying to 'MacGyver' it a little bit."

The biggest challenge, she says, was finding the right Peeps. After four stops at local retailers, her husband and eldest daughter found the sought-after yellow bunnies, but by that point Harris had mostly assembled the diorama. "It was really fun to do, and that was important to me," she notes. "If you're going to spend that many hours on something, it should be something you enjoy."

Finalist

"Freedom Is Not Free: A Peeps Tribute to the Veterans of the Korean War"

by Elizabeth Teuwen, 38, Gregory Stackel, 42, and Genevieve Sapir, 37, Washington

This Peepified version of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall strikes a delicate balance between evocative and clever. "We were having a brainstorming session and trying to come up with clever names based on Peeps, but then we thought we could do something distinctly Washington," says Sapir, whose team includes her husband and her best friend. "I think what we really liked about the memorial was how it looks at night, and we thought it would be fun to make a nighttime scene."

Lawyers who met while working at the National Archives, Sapir and Teuwen collaborated with Stackel, an architect, who created a structurally sound base for the diorama. Teuwen, an accomplished crafter, gets the majority of the praise for the artistry. "Once we settled on a theme, we regrouped, and Elizabeth bought a bunch of supplies and brought her sewing kit," Sapir says. The diorama took one full Saturday to construct.

Nine soldier Peeps wear fabric ponchos and tilt forward under the weight of clay helmets and guns. The fencing is crafted from wire and toothpicks, while a string of lights replicates the ground-level lighting of the memorial. Mimicking the actual memorial's sea of faces etched on a granite wall, the left wall of the diorama showcases black-and-white images of Peep bunnies and chicks.

It was the team's second year entering, and they had learned a thing or two about the division of labor. "Because I'm not as good at the crafts, I always have a lot of doubts that it's going to come together during the initial assembly," says Sapir, who does more of the conception than the construction and photographs the finished product. "In the past, I questioned Elizabeth and Greg, but now I've learned not to question them, because I know it's going to be great."


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