Designer Dawn Cai spent 10 hours and used more than 3,000 candy corns to build the sweetest maze for a Weekend cover story about D.C.-area corn mazes. (Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)
Oct. 16 Weekend cover, created by Dawn Cai (The Washington Post)

For our story on corn mazes in the Washington area, designer Dawn Cai spent 10 hours and used more than 3,000 candy corn to create a D.C.-themed maze that we used on the cover of the Weekend section. Here's how she put it all together.

I can’t believe how elaborate some corn mazes are, so I decided only an elaborate cover would do them justice. Many ideas came to mind. Maze-like typography? Too cliche. A maze made out of actual corn? Not interesting enough.

Then I discovered candy corn.

[Get lost: The perfect fall weekend calls for a corn maze]

I didn’t grow up with Halloween candy; in Hangzhou, China, I had tangyuan and mooncakes. When I was 18, I came to the United States for college and learned about Halloween: costumes, spooks, parties. No one told me about candy corn. I had seen the little yellow-orange-white triangles in stores as decorations, but I didn’t realize they were candy until I started researching this project.

As a designer, I’m always looking for ways to create things that provoke or resonate with people’s emotions. And people feel very strongly about candy corn: I read blog posts about why it’s the best (or worst) candy; I scrolled through Pinterest boards of candy-corn-themed everything, from cakes to blankets.

So I bought a few bags and started playing around with the candy corn. (I also ate one for the first time. It was not good.) My first attempts weren't quite right:


(Photo by Dawn Cai/The Washington Post)

Then I found something that started to work:


(Photo by Dawn Cai/The Washington Post)

One of my co-workers said it looked like yellow teeth. But I thought the upright candy corn mimicked the standing corn in the mazes, and looking down, they looked like kernels on a cob. I spent the next two days gluing candy corn onto a three-foot-by-three-foot maze.

[Photos: Taylor Swift and other things carved into fields of corn]

Creating this cover reminded me of the joy of making things by hand. I had fun making it, even though it was pretty tedious and, at times, I thought I was a little crazy. But it was worth it if you smiled when you saw the cover.


The finished product. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)